Tuesday, 29 November 2016
You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris
Published By Random House Vintage
Purchase from Amazon here
What matters most in life? How do you build a happy life when terrible things happen? What is left behind when you lose the person you love the most?
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 from friends 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 17-month-old 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 about how Antoine, and his baby son Melvil, endured after Hélène’s murder. With courage, moral acuity, and absolute emotional honesty, he finds a way to answer the question, how can I go on? This is the rare and unforgettable testimony of a survivor, and a universal message of hope and resilience. This book is a guiding star for us all in perilous times.
What a powerful and emotional book You Will Not Have My Hate is. I completed it in one sitting because once I started I couldn’t put it down. This is sadly not a work of fiction, but a very frank and insightful look into what is was like to be the spouse of one of the victims murdered as part of the Bataclan horror we saw unfold last year.
It is the story of a young and happy family ripped apart unexpectedly one night in the most awful way. It is one of those books you wish had never needed to be written, but are in awe of the author and his strength in being able to not only carry on, but to decide that he will not waste his life on hatred, or bitterness, but will show his young son how to love.
Whilst many of us will have seen the awful footage on tv, and read about it in the media, all we really saw was the scene of the crime, and while we of course were in shock and our thoughts went to their families, I for one couldn’t begin to imagine what it must be like to not know if your loved one is dead or alive, and then to come to terms with the reality. Antoine is very candid and writes with such power that I felt a strong empathy with him within the opening pages. Each page steps through his awful journey from initial reports of a shooting, to the realization that his wife has been involved, and then on to life after where he has to explain to his young son what has happened and adjust to life as a single parent.
Some of you may recollect seeing his Facebook post just days after the event where he wrote an open letter declaring that his life will not be defined by hatred, but by love. I didn’t see this at the time, but reading his words in this book has certainly had a lasting impact on me and I hope will make me a better person.
Antoine’s words and attitude remind me of a recent session with my therapist who put it to me that we cannot always control what happens to us, or around us, but we can choose how we react. This is so very true, and this book epitomises this. It also acts as a reminder to value life and love, and to make the most of every single day.
I am so thankful to Antoine for allowing us to glimpse into the worst moments of his life, and to show us how to keep strong, carry love in our hearts, and be mindful of how we act towards others, because we never know how things are behind the scenes for them.
They Will Not Have My Hate is a book that explores loss, grief, and sadness, but also inspires and goes to show that love is more powerful and healing than hatred.