In the opening scene of unflinching thriller Before My Eyes—reminiscent of the shooting at Gabby Giffords’ political rally in 2011—a gunman pulls out a weapon at a Labor Day campaign rally for New York state senator Glenn Cooper. Who is the target? What is the motive? And how will the crowd react to and fare the tragedy? To answer these questions, author Caroline Bock takes readers back to the Friday that kicks off this holiday weekend on Long Island and the events that lead up to the gunman’s appearance.

Three young adults give varying perspectives in distinct voices. While all of his varsity soccer buddies have had cushy summer jobs and plenty of free time to party on the beach, Max, Glenn Cooper’s son, has had to keep up appearances as a “common man’s” son, taking ice cream orders at the beach snack shack. In the less affluent part of town, Claire has been babysitting her sister and writing poetry while her mother recovers from a stroke and her father figures out how to pay for the rehab center. Barkley, who has stopped bathing and started hearing voices, has become concerned with the environment and demands answers from Glenn Cooper, even if it means using a gun to get them.

When these three young adults inadvertently become involved with each otherBock shows just how intertwined yet overlooked human connections can be. As the hour of the shooting approaches, the pace quickens as each character’s strengths and weaknesses are revealed. The thought-provoking story broaches such topics as recognizing signs of mental illness, caring for the mentally ill, gun control and the difficulties of each. While Bock doesn’t provide answers, she offers a rich opportunity to start a dialogue on these issues that continue to plague America.

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