On 13 November 2015, Antoine Leiris’s wife, Hélène, was killed, along with 88 other people at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, when three men armed with guns and suicide bombs opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd at a rock concert. Three days later, Leiris, a young journalist, wrote an open letter on Facebook addressed to his wife’s killers. Leiris refused to be cowed or to let his 17-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,’ he wrote. Instantly, that short Facebook post caught fire. It was shared over two hundred thousand times and was reported on all over the world. In his beautiful and moving defiance of the terrorists who had killed his wife, Leiris became an international hero to everyone searching desperately for a way to deal with the horror of the attacks.
I don’t read memoirs . . . ever. However, You Will Not Have My Hate was recommended very highly by a friend of mine and when she sent me the ARC, I just knew I had to stop what I was reading to read it. (The same day, I had just learned about my son’s lockdown drill policy – so something compelled me to want to read it right then, too).
The book is a very short and easy read. It didn’t read as a typical memoir, and it was almost reminscent of a journal entries. I know Leiris wrote every day after the attack, and it’s the basis for the book, so it would make sense that it reads as a journal. Either way, it was exceptional and very beautifully written.
I was in tears from the beginning and was an emotional wreck at the end.
Anyone who follows the news would know the story. Reading You Will Not Have My Hate covers a bit of the story, but it’s all from Leiris’ point of view from before he found out of the attack and the months that follow. Reading the intimate thoughts and feelings of a man that just lost his wife and has to raise his son on his own. It was overwhelmingly heartbreaking, 😦
For some reason – I think You Will Not Have My Hate is the book to read after the disaster that became 2016. It will open up your eyes to the world around you, and you will want to refocus your hate and frustrations. To find what means the most and embrace it . . . to not let anyone or anything falter your way of life and how you view the world.