A teenage outcast goes on a shooting spree in his high school, and the survivors are left to determine if it was because they provoked him. Peter Houghton didn't fit in at Sterling High, and he knew it. He knew it because the popular kids never let him forget it. He'd been bullied by the same people since kindergarten, and there was never any justice for them. At least, not until Peter delivered it. Peter goes on a premeditated shooting spree in his high school. He's apprehended by the police in the same room where he cornered his last victim---Josie, a girl he suddenly decided not to kill. The story is split between the past events that could have led Peter to this dark place, and the present events that helped him make up his mind. Both the past and present sections deal with Peter's relationship with Josie, and why he made the last minute decision to spare her life. Peter wanted to reconnect with Josie, and he did; her mother is the judge sitting on Peter's trial. Josie has to struggle with a mother that can, by law, tell her absolutely nothing, and with a guilty conscience about Peter's downward spiral. Josie partly blames herself, but she also blames everyone around her who helped torment Peter. She blames Peter, too, for refusing to fit in. The novel winds down with the town of Sterling in an uproar over the seemingly senseless murder of their children and the slandering of their safe reputation and Josie's mother stepping down from the case because she can't compromise being a judge with being a mother; her daughter needed her more than her town did.
Best scene in story:
Peter lit a dumpster on fire during his afterschool job. Josie was one of his coworkers, and she was the one who came to put out the fire. She asked him why he did it and his answer was "because I knew you'd come." It really highlighted the relationship Peter and Josie had.