I remember buying this book from a used bookstore as a kid. I rediscovered it when cleaning out my mom's old house and decided to give it a read (or re-read, I have no idea if I ever actually read it).
For me, this book was okay. I think the premise was good, but the way it was carried out often felt rushed and kind of irresponsible.
The main character, Dimple, really annoyed me, because she was so emotionally-stunted. This is a book about kids trying to act like grownups in the most dangerous way. I really disliked Dimple, because she was so unaware of other people. Everything was about her all the time. She had no concept of theory of mind or how other people felt about things. This really bugged me, especially since she's in sixth-grade. It just didn't feel realistic. She acted more like a third-grader. With dangerous consequences.
Also, the fact that the book was so child-driven felt irresponsible to me. There was little to no parent intervention throughout the story. The kids just took it unto themselves to "fix" things. As a so-called "adult" reading this, it just didn't seem realistic.
And for a character that was supposedly so detail-oriented, there were so many weird plot holes and unrealistic reactions, such as...
<spoiler> Despite the fact that Dimple told Sheila that she was completely serious about shooting Ronnie, Sheila didn't even consider mentioning this to a grown up.
Even after a child was killing in their house using their gun, Ronnie's parents still kept another gun under the mattress when the first gun was hidden.
After finding three sixth-graders alone in a house (one of which was passed out on the floor) and a gun laying in the hallway, the Fishbacks made no attempt to reach any of the children's parents (even though they were all right down the street).
Ronnie's parents have two guns "for protection", but they keep their doors unlocked? I grew up in a small town as well and we kept our doors unlocked when we were home, but we didn't have guns just laying around.
Sheila gives Dimple the bullet she gets out of the pillow after Dimple almost shoots Ronnie. Would the bullet really just be sitting in the pillow? Wouldn't it have gone through an lodged in the wall or headboard or something? <spoiler>
So, for me, this book just had too many holes and unrealistic actions to really enjoy. It had a interesting concept, but just didn't do anything with it. I think the subject matter was important, but don't feel like there wasn't much of a lesson in it. It was too simplified.