Four Three Two One

Four Three Two One

In this contemporary YA novel, a girl reunites with the three other survivors of a bus bombing that killed nineteen people, and together they face the secrets, struggles, and emotional warfare that each has been enduring.Golden “Go” Jennings wasn’t supposed to be on Bus 21 the day it blew up in New York City. Neither was her boyfriend, Chandler. But they were. And so was R...

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Title:Four Three Two One
Author:Courtney C. Stevens
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Four Three Two One Reviews

  • Madison

    Take an author who is excellent at writing powerful stories about heartbreaking situations. Add a plot line about a bombing, abusive relationships, recovery journeys and the power of human togetherness. Drop in five character: four survivors and one along for the ride. Stir together and shake a little. With that recipe it’s no wonder that Four Three Two One is an incredibly powerful and emotive story of surviving, overcoming insurmountable odds, and forgiving yourself.

    Golden Jennings is one of

    Take an author who is excellent at writing powerful stories about heartbreaking situations. Add a plot line about a bombing, abusive relationships, recovery journeys and the power of human togetherness. Drop in five character: four survivors and one along for the ride. Stir together and shake a little. With that recipe it’s no wonder that Four Three Two One is an incredibly powerful and emotive story of surviving, overcoming insurmountable odds, and forgiving yourself.

    Golden Jennings is one of four survivors of a bus bombing. While she is eager to unpack the emotions and fallout from that fateful day in New York, her boyfriend, another survivor, won’t mention it at all. When one of the attending paramedics reconstructs the bus and creates a memorial for those who died in the blast, Golden decides to make the trip to New York again. With a new-found friend and the two other survivors, Golden begins a journey towards making new memories, facing old ones and maybe even find some form of healing.

    I absolutely adore Courtney Stevens’ writing and novels. Time and time again she produces stories that grip me as a reader, delight me as a librarian because I know this too will be a book that will be handed from reader to eager reader, and make me proud to be human.

    The majority of Four Three Two One is written from Golden’s perspective, after the bombing. There are a few extra sections written from fellow bomb survivor, Caroline. These additions offer insight into what happened before the bomb and after and Caroline’s tumultuous feelings and current state of mind. It is through Caroline that we readers also gain insight into the bomber himself and the damage he caused that reached far beyond the bus bombing.

    While terribly sad and traumatic, in true Courtney Stevens style, Four Three Two One is an uplifting and often humorous novel. It is superbly written, scattering enough details throughout the story to keep readers totally engaged, but leaving some pretty big reveals for the conclusion.

    Family, relationships and romance all play their part in Four Three Two One. Diverse and complex characters, topical themes and stunning writing come together to make a novel that is a must-read YA contemporary and a must-have for all library shelves.

    The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

    Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog

  • Samantha (WLABB)

    Go, Chan, Caroline, and Rudy all lost something that day on the bus. While some scars were more obvious than others, each one was harboring some pain and guilt, which was holding them back. Go was hoping that facing her fears at the exhibit would help propel her forward, but maybe she, and all the other survivors, would find the strength they needed before they arrived in New York.

    • Pro: This story was emotional and painful and wonderful. Stevens did such an incredible job helping me navigate t

    Go, Chan, Caroline, and Rudy all lost something that day on the bus. While some scars were more obvious than others, each one was harboring some pain and guilt, which was holding them back. Go was hoping that facing her fears at the exhibit would help propel her forward, but maybe she, and all the other survivors, would find the strength they needed before they arrived in New York.

    • Pro: This story was emotional and painful and wonderful. Stevens did such an incredible job helping me navigate the very complicated feelings these characters were experiencing, and I loved all the feels that were passed on to me.

    • Pro: Survivor stories are always interesting to me. We automatically think of how lucky the they are, but I don't think one can fully understand the complex emotions at play for these people. Four Three Two One was such a thoughtful look at the baggage they were stuck with following the event. Each of these survivors was harboring some guilt related to the bombing, and seeing its impact on their lives was saddening.

    • Pro: I thought the story was structured really well. The story was told predominately from Go's point of view in the present, but we also got some chapters from past and present Caroline, and even a little bit of Rudy's viewpoint via his written work. I felt like I got a good look in their heads, and a better understanding of what they were experiencing via this format.

    • Pro: The characters were all so well drawn, super likable, and so easy to root for. I even grew to love and care for Caroline, even though she was (rightfully) angry and damaged, because she was just as well crafted as the other characters.

    • Pro: There were two really great side characters: Go's grandmother and Becky. Gram was an encouraging and supportive voice, who didn't let fear force her to discourage Go's ambitions, and Becky! She was the sunshine and the cheerleader for this group of survivors. I think she was really important to the story too, because she was a non-survivor in the group, and being on the outside of it all allowed her to be objective and see things more clearly at times.

    • Pro: Post explosion, the four survivors had to embrace their new futures. Things happened as a result of the event, which altered their futures, and some of them needed a little nudge to keep moving towards that new destination.

    Overall: This was one fantastic non-road trip road trip. It was a beautiful story of the different ways we survive and the healing power of love, forgiveness, connection, and friendship.

    *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Rebecca Akins

    This book ripped my heart out and then slowly mended it. This book follows the four survivors of a bus bombing. Each of these for characters is dealing with their own form of PTSD and survivors guilt. These four characters along with a close friend of one of the survivors take a road trip to the Gand opening of a memorial built for the victims of the bombing. At its core, this book is about healing and forgiveness. The character relationships and individual character development led to a beautif

    This book ripped my heart out and then slowly mended it. This book follows the four survivors of a bus bombing. Each of these for characters is dealing with their own form of PTSD and survivors guilt. These four characters along with a close friend of one of the survivors take a road trip to the Gand opening of a memorial built for the victims of the bombing. At its core, this book is about healing and forgiveness. The character relationships and individual character development led to a beautifully-raw and moving story of how one event can change everything. This book is full of heartbreaking moments but is equally full of inspiring moments. I love this book, and I am so grateful to the author for writing such a magnificent book.

  • Kristie

    Life After Tragedy

    "Chandler and Golden versus the world" has been the motto of Chan and Go since they were 11. As seventeen-year-olds, they're a couple, and although they're still facing life's challenges together, there's been a distance between them ever since they became two of four survivors of a horrific bus bombing in New York City. It's been a year since that bomb killed nineteen teens, and Chan and Go are back home in the Hive, the Kentucky commune where they've grown up. Chan and Go are

    Life After Tragedy

    "Chandler and Golden versus the world" has been the motto of Chan and Go since they were 11. As seventeen-year-olds, they're a couple, and although they're still facing life's challenges together, there's been a distance between them ever since they became two of four survivors of a horrific bus bombing in New York City. It's been a year since that bomb killed nineteen teens, and Chan and Go are back home in the Hive, the Kentucky commune where they've grown up. Chan and Go are physically okay, but they both silently carry psychological wounds and secrets that are pulling their relationship apart.

    FOUR THREE TWO ONE by Courtney Stevens chronicles Go's efforts to reclaim herself in the aftermath of the tragedy. Go is a strong character, but she seems on the verge of breaking from the strain of not dealing with what happened on Bus 21. Go would like to talk about it with Chan, with her parents, or with the other survivors, but most of those closest to her refuse. This makes Go determined to revisit the scene of the bus bombing by returning to New York for the one-year anniversary of the event. An artist (who also happens to be the EMT who took care of Go at the scene) has taken the destroyed bus and turned it into a piece of art, and he's chronicled the whole process in a reality show. That show has also led to a college fund being developed for the four survivors, and that fund has allowed Go to dream of eventually escaping the Hive and leaving Kentucky for college.

    Go gathers others to travel with her to New York: a reluctant Chan, the other two survivors--both of whom have stories and secrets of their own--and Becky, a friend from school who seems to be just along for the ride but is an integral part of the group.

    There is so much going on in FOUR THREE TWO ONE that it's hard to give a synopsis without writing a full book report... in short, Stevens does a great job writing about broken teens who are trying to pull themselves together while managing the difficulties, both large and small, that life brings. The road trip aspect of the book keeps things moving, and some of the minor characters like Go's grandmother help keep everything grounded and "real." There are times when there is a LOT of talking, but these characters have loads of ground to cover, so that can be forgiven.

    This is a book that I would love to see made into a movie. The scenes throughout are vibrant, the main characters (and a few minor ones) are people I'd like to hang out with in the flesh, and I like the world that Stevens has built. Yes, really bad things happen, but there is plenty of good, ample amounts of hope, and room for dreams. Readers can learn a lot from Go's determination to "keep living a full life with a damaged past rather than a damaged life."

    My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of FOUR THREE TWO ONE in exchange for my honest review, and kudos to Courtney Stevens for another excellent book.

  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    I haven't been so enamored with a book in quite some time. This was such a freaking 

    book, and one I hadn't expected to hit me as hard as it did. And truth be told, I don't think that anything I can say will fully do it justice.

    I haven't been so enamored with a book in quite some time. This was such a freaking 

    book, and one I hadn't expected to hit me as hard as it did. And truth be told, I don't think that anything I can say will fully do it justice.

    So I am going to tell you a bunch of junk I liked about the book, while trying to explain that it is even more than the sum of these positives. Okay, here we go!

    The relationship that Go had with Becky was just authentic as hell. Sure, it was messy sometimes, and complicated, but Becky was going to be there for Go no matter what. Go learned so much about herself and others from her relationship with Becky, and it was just healthy and a great representation of what friendships are really all about.

    Go's relationship with her parents was complicated at best. But also really realistic feeling, and full of love. But the best, 

    relationship was the one Go had with her grandma. Gran reminded me of a combination of both of my grandmothers, who I love and adore more than just about anyone, so seeing her have this incredible relationship with hers was so freaking heartwarming.

    So this is twofold, because each of these things on its own is awesome, but also when you add them together it's incredibly profound. Obviously, the ramifications of the bombing are numerous. You have survivor's guilt, regular guilt, trying to move on after, and so on. The story develops a lot as the friends travel on, and you get a lot of insight into the baggage that everyone is carrying. But, it's also about growing up in its own right. Growing apart from people you love, finding new people to love, and figuring out who and what you want to be.

    I highlighted just a 

    of passages. Some were beautiful, some were poignant, some were light-hearted and fun, but overall I found the writing to be such a huge plus in this book.

    Even the more minor ones, everyone in the story truly served a purpose.

    Like I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg of awesomeness. It's just a story that you feel so deeply, one that I wholeheartedly recommend.

  • Lindsay Nixon

    4.8 stars

    I'm so glad I stumbled on this book. It has a few scenes that are a little too "High School Musical"/Hollywood--where it's sweet but you also know actual teenagers would not sit in a circle holding hands saying "I forgive you." That aside, GREAT book with fantastic exploration and commentary on what it is like to be a surviving teen and just how far the waves reach when one person does something terrible. We are all connected.

    I loved these two quotes:

    "I have to live in the future the p

    4.8 stars

    I'm so glad I stumbled on this book. It has a few scenes that are a little too "High School Musical"/Hollywood--where it's sweet but you also know actual teenagers would not sit in a circle holding hands saying "I forgive you." That aside, GREAT book with fantastic exploration and commentary on what it is like to be a surviving teen and just how far the waves reach when one person does something terrible. We are all connected.

    I loved these two quotes:

    "I have to live in the future the past gave me."

    "Terrorism isn't a bomb. Terrorism is being afraid there will always be a bomb. [...] Pain isn't a bomb. Pain is being afraid no one understands your pain. I know pain. I'm intimately acquainted with the loneliness of believing I am the only one who understands pain like mine. Blame isn't a bomb. Blame is a single arrow I shoot at myself. I know blame. Fear isn't a bomb. Fear is a friend I greet every morning like a spouse on the other side of my bed. I know fear. Fear reminds me that the world takes what it wants and it probably wants me. Fear whispers, "Today could be your last day." Fear is my tattoo, the one on my face. The one strangers see at first glance and think, "my god, boy, what happened to you?" There were days I wanted to be done with terror, pain, blame, and fear. I planned to kill the bad emotions like they were monsters but it's hard to kill the monster that lives inside you. Today, I'm exorcizing the monster. There is no way to know in advance if I have the strength. I won't know until I touch bus 21, look at my friends, and say "I'm ready." I won't know until I allow them to lift my chair onto the very bus that stole my legs. But if a man can be ready to be ready, I am that man."

  • Vicki

    An interesting look at teenage decision-making in the aftermath of trauma.

  • Jane

    3.5 stars. This was very emotional and will definitely impact readers, but I also had some issues (pacing, plotting, trying to fit too much into one story) that lessened my overall rating. However, I’d still recommend it, especially if you enjoyed Dress Codes for Small Towns.

  • PinkAmy loves  \\u0026#x1f495; books\\u0026#x1f4d6;, cats\\u0026#x1f63b; and naps\\u0026#x1f6cf;

    1 STARS

    Golden is in a bus bombing in NYC that leaves only three other survivors, her boyfriend Chan, Rudy and the bomber’s girlfriend Caroline. A year later, an artist has recreated the bus for charity and to honor the victims. The group, minus Chan set off on a road trip to reclaim their strength.

    FOUR THREE TWO ONE didn’t work for me on multiple levels. First, Golden and Chandler live on a commune and I’m supposed to buy into a love that was meant to be since they were kids. He creepily gives h

    1 STARS

    Golden is in a bus bombing in NYC that leaves only three other survivors, her boyfriend Chan, Rudy and the bomber’s girlfriend Caroline. A year later, an artist has recreated the bus for charity and to honor the victims. The group, minus Chan set off on a road trip to reclaim their strength.

    FOUR THREE TWO ONE didn’t work for me on multiple levels. First, Golden and Chandler live on a commune and I’m supposed to buy into a love that was meant to be since they were kids. He creepily gives her a promise ring in front of the commune residents (The Hive) and basically forces her into an engagement. Ick. Ick. Ick. I was rooting for her to kick him to the curb for the whole book, which I think is the opposite that Courtney C Stevens wanted.

    Second, the book was boring, boring boring.

    While a few good tidbits of dating violence and the different ways people experience PTSD, it’s not enough for me to recommend.

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