You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.I always get nervous going into a short novel about whether or not there will be enough substance packed in for me to come to care about the characters and the events of the story. Beck McDowell proved that worry completely unfounded; in 224 pages she created a bond that I cared about and got me all misty multiple times. This is Not A Drill is the story of two high school students, Emery and Jake, who are French tutors to a first grade class. The day starts out like any other but that all changes when one of the students father, Brian Stutts, comes to pick him up and the class quickly finds themselves in a hostage situation. This story starts off with a bang, McDowell wasted no time to get the story moving which at first had me a bit disjointed. But as the story goes on and we are fed Stutt's history on his tours in Iraq as well as the romantic history between Emery and Jake. I enjoyed both aspects of the story so much and found myself feeling terrible for Brian which was not an emotion I thought I would have for him going into the novel. The horrors that he saw overseas and how the effects of that touched everything in his life when he came back was haunting. The author created this gray area where you knew that what Brian was doing was terribly wrong but once we delved more into his life it was almost as if he had his back against a wall and was just so desperate to have his son in his life. Now, that doesn't make what he did OK but it definitely made me understand his motivations perfectly.Brian's story is not the only one we are treated to here, we also get glimpses into Emery and Jake's history and see what they have gone through together. I really liked Emery she was incredibly smart and she was fantastic with the children. I loved how much she had absorbed from the teacher in her few months tutoring and watching her step into Mrs. Campbells role once she was gone was great. Jake's history was another aspect of the story that really pulled at my heartstrings. Seeing how lost he was after the loss of his mother was so sad and so was the resulting rebellion when his father started dating "The Christine."Don't be fooled by the small number of pages of This Is Not A Drill, this story packs a punch and is full of characters that you will come to care immensely about. This is a tough subject and it truly frightened me, it probably wasn't the best book to read on a day when my 5 year old daughter was at school. Beck has created a frighteningly real story that will make you think and will definitely have you grabbing for a box of tissues.