Memoir of Finding Answers – My Book Review


By Leesa Ross
Categories: Nonfiction / Memoir / Personal Transformation / Advocacy
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Pages: 192
Publication Date: April 15, 2020

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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

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Memoir of Finding Answers – My Book Review

At Close Range Bookstagram-CS

There is no mistaking that guns are a pivotal talking point for many of us. The recent book I read At Close Range is a book with many pivotal points.

At Close Range is a memoir about a mother turning tragedy into advocacy around a subject that is highly controversial and polarizing on both sides of the fence.

The first time I shot a gun I was six years old. From that moment on I knew guns were not to be played with in any form. That shooting of a gun came after my dad’s best friend committed suicide. When I graduated from high school, my dad gave me a .22 pistol which I always carried in my car. The gun’s purpose was there in case I ever needed the gun for protection during my long travels. Thankfully, I never had to use it.

Author, Leesa Ross wrote a heart-rendering point-of-view memoir on a tragic accident that claimed the life of her oldest son. While this book is very introspective on a personal level the writing took me on her journey of creating something positive from the tragedy. This book details the shooting, back story, and present and future moments.

This memoir took me on an emotional roller coaster. It is gut-wrenching for anyone who has been affected by a gun-related loss. It is thought-provoking for those who believe that guns are a constitutional right.  I whole-heartedly agree with Leesa that education is key and that is the main message that I take away from her memoir. Just like with Driver’s Education, teenagers need the option of educating themselves about guns and gun safety. While guns are not for everyone, that educational option should be available to the teens that want to learn. I cannot imagine not growing up understanding guns.

What I wish the book had was at least one photo of Jon or maybe even a photo of the family. On a side note – I wonder if the author had requested a Freedom of Information request if it would have been approved by the police department in North Carolina. I think that is the toughest thing for me reading this book is the lack of answers. I whole-heartedly admire Leesa for trying to find those answers, make sense of what she was given, and move on with her life.

This exceptionally eloquent book is a perfect conversation starter for parents, teachers, and teenagers, and kids.



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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