This inspirational and heartbreaking memoir shows the power of love as a young father finds himself suddenly caring for his son alone after his wife is killed in the Paris attacks.
"On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hate."
On November 13, 2015, Antoine Leiris's wife, Hélène Muyal-Leiris, was killed by terrorists while attending a rock concert at the Bataclan Theater in Paris, in the deadliest attack on France since World War II. Three days later, Leiris wrote an open letter addressed directly to his wife's killers, which he posted on Facebook. He refused to be cowed or to let his seventeen-month-old son's life be defined by Hélène's murder. He refused to let the killers have their way: "For as long as he lives, this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom." Instantly, that short Facebook post caught fire, and was reported on by newspapers and television stations all over the world. In his determination to honor the memory of his wife, he became an international hero to everyone searching desperately for a way to deal with the horror of the Paris attacks and the grim shadow cast today by the threat of terrorism.
Now Leiris tells the full story of his grief and struggle. You Will Not Have My Hate is a remarkable, heartbreaking, and, indeed, beautiful memoir of how he and his baby son, Melvil, endured in the days and weeks after Hélène's murder. With absolute emotional courage and openness, he somehow finds a way to answer that impossible question: how can I go on? He visits Hélène's body at the morgue, has to tell Melvil that Mommy will not be coming home, and buries the woman he had planned to spend the rest of his life with.
Leiris's grief is terrible, but his love for his family is indomitable. This is the rare and unforgettable testimony of a survivor, and a universal message of hope and resilience. Leiris confronts an incomprehensible pain with a humbling generosity and grandeur of spirit. He is a guiding star for us all in these perilous times. His message - hate will be vanquished by love - is eternal.
Regrettably, the publisher of this book has chosen not to make an excerpt available.
Although all grief is unique, in exposing his own so nakedly he hits sympathetic chords that transform it into something that universally resonates. His sorrow becomes our own. Readers who have known sudden, tragic loss will undoubtedly relate completely to Leiris's reactions, while those who haven't will better understand what it's like to lose the person around whom one's life revolves. You Will Not Have My Hate is exceptionally slim, but it packs a powerful punch.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (679 words).
On Friday, November 13, 2015, suicide bombers and gunmen launched coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Antoine Leiris's wife Hélène was among the victims.
The first sign of trouble came at the Stade de France, a stadium in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. On the night in question, France was playing Germany in an international soccer match. Spectators were searched before being allowed to enter the stadium, and a man was discovered to be wearing a suicide belt packed with explosives. He backed away from the guards and detonated himself at 9:20 p.m., killing one bystander. A second bomber exploded his payload at a different entrance about 10 minutes later, and a third detonated at a McDonald's near the stadium at 9:...
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Winner of the 2015 Pitt Drue Heinz Literature Prize.
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