AT CLOSE RANGE: A MEMOIR OF TRAGEDY AND ADVOCACY By Leesa Ross
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Pub Date: April 15, 2020
Categories: Nonfiction / Memoir / Personal Transformation / Advocacy
Leesa Ross did not expect to write a book. Neither did she expect the tragedy that her family endured, a horrific and sudden death that led her to write At Close Range. Her debut memoir is the story of what happened after her son Jon died in a freak gun accident at a party. Ross unsparingly shares the complexities of grief as it ripples through the generations of her family, then chronicles how the loss of Jon has sparked a new life for her as a prominent advocate for gun safety. Before the accident, Ross never had a motivation to consider the role that guns played in her life. Now, she revisits ways in which guns became a part of everyday life for her three sons and their friends.
Ross’s attitude towards guns is thorny. She has collectors and hunters in her family. To balance her advocacy, she joined both Moms Demand Action and the NRA. Through At Close Range, the national conversation about gun control plays out in one family’s catalyzing moment and its aftermath. However, At Close Range ultimately shows one mother’s effort to create meaning from tragedy and find a universally reasonable position and focal point: gun safety and responsible ownership.
Purchase: Texas Tech University Press
At Close Range was at the forefront a memoir. This story follows a mother processing her grief by revisiting moments in her child's life, questioning and coming to terms with the fact that sometimes life doesn't make sense. There were a mix of stories incorporated from both before and after the tragedy as she looks for red flags and examines her guilt.
The reader gets to witness this mother going through each stage of grief from denial, thinking her oldest was the least likely to be in that situation and that changing the diagnosed "suicide" might make the loss hurt less, to that denial transforming to anger when confronting the police and coroners. She moved to bargaining with herself in her blame that maybe this fell on her and that she could have done more. Then became withdrawn and depressed not knowing how to socialize and talk about her surviving sons anymore and finally accepting that past and attending her first advocacy walk.
Every story she told was a step closer to finding her voice. She made a rainbow from the rain. Her journey in her advocacy was not brought in until the last chapter or two and I wish it held a bigger presence. Leesa is in such a unique situation being pro-gun but also advocating safety and awareness. I would have loved to learn more about her growing, evolving advocacy work and more about her roadblocks and progress she has made since those initial speaking arrangements.
At Close Range is an extremely personal story. Leesa opens up with all her fears and worries and leaves it all on the table. This must be an extremely comforting book for those who have been through similar situations knowing they are not alone. Although this story does revolve around gun violence, it respectfully does so at a distance, not going into grave detail on the specifics of the accident. Thank you Leesa for baring your soul and bringing awareness to gun accidents.
Thank you Lonestar Literary Life for the free review copy of this book.
Leesa Ross is a debut author who’s transformed a tragedy into a mission for safety. After losing a son to a shooting accident, she formed Lock Arms for Life, an educational organization teaching gun safety. A Texas mother of three, she leads Lock Arms, sits on the board of Texas Gun Sense, and belongs to the NRA.
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