Saturday, 14 January 2017

Book Review: You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

The Blurb:
Selected as a Book of the Year 2016 in the Guardian and Observer.
This inspiring and courageous book is a guiding star for us all in troubled times.
One night last winter, Antoine Leiris was at home looking after his son while his wife, Hélène, was at a concert with friends. Suddenly he started receiving text messages asking if he was ok. Turning on the TV, Antoine watched the terrorist attacks in Paris unfolding around him and tried to call Hélène. She didn’t answer. That night Hélène was killed, along with 88 other people, at the Bataclan Theatre.

Three days later, Antoine wrote an open letter to his wife’s killers on Facebook. He refused to be cowed or to let his baby son’s life be defined by their acts. ‘For as long as he lives, this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom,’ he wrote. Instantly, that short post caught fire and was shared thousands of times around the world.
You Will Not Have My Hate is an extraordinary and heartbreaking memoir which teaches us how to respond to a world full of hatred with generosity and love. This is the rare and unforgettable testimony of a survivor, and a universal message of hope and resilience.
My Review:

Thank you to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read this utterly devastating account of just one of the deaths caused by terrorists at the Bataclan Theatre in November 2015.

I was in the comfort of my own home, idly flicking from app to app on my phone that Friday evening when stories began to come through on Twitter, closely followed by breaking headlines from the BBC News app. First reports of shootings, a few people shot, then some more, followed by more, and so followed an evening of reports so shocking and terrible I cried.

This is a heartbreaking read, as we all know what happened that horrible night in Paris. Here we are told how the tragedy has affected the family of Helene Muyal-Leiris who was one of those killed in the Bataclan.

It could be any of us, which is a very frightening thing. I've thought of the many times I've been to gigs in similar venues, and have tried to imaging the sheer terror of gunmen bursting in. But they will not stop me from going to other gigs, or to other potential targets.

That's what Antoine is trying to show here. He wrote a now famous post on Facebook, telling the terrorists that he will not afford any more time thinking about them. He has set a standard for us all to follow, in that we should not allow them to terrorise us. Yes, he is mourning his wife and his child has lost his mother, and it is terrible, as is loss for anyone. But he shows a strength in refusing to be cowed by the terrorists.

There's not much more I can say about this book, other than I wish for a peaceful life full of love for Antoine and his family.

You can buy the book from Amazon, Waterstones or other retailers.

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