Padilla set out to follow the recovery of Jeff May, one of the victims of the Red Lake school shootings — but found little narrative there. So Padilla and his editor, Laurie Hertzel, shifted the focus to Jeff’s brother, Shane, who had stepped in to care for his younger siblings. Their mother had suffered a stroke, and the family was struggling to survive.

We think the piece would be stronger with more intimate, concrete detail and scene. But there are other ways the narrative works well: the focus on a single, heroic character; his arc of struggle and growth. We liked best the real scenes, particularly the shopping scene and the piece’s ending, with its touching, particular detail. We liked the lovely closing lines.

Hertzel wrote us that responses to the series were “pouring in.” She emailed this comment from a reader: “After reading the sad, tragic story of the May family in Saturday’s Star Tribune, I cannot simply fold up the paper and say, ‘Wow, good story. What’s next?’ My heart aches for this family, and would like to help them.’ ” In response to the many readers wanting to help, the family’s attorney set up a fund for donations.

Read “Suddenly It Was Up to Shane,” by Howie Padilla

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