Friday, February 3, 2017

You Will Not Have My Hate

You Will Not Have My Hate

By Antoine Leiris

A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

I found this book in the “New Arrivals” section of our local library. As I started to read the very first page of this novel my eyes began to well and I let the tears fall. Antoine Leiris writes from a personal place where grief and struggle have become part of his world. Not through any fault of his own but his story became very public and reaching out to others in a most difficult time. 

“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.”

Hélène Muyal-Leiris and Melvil Photo Credit:
Antoine Leiris

I remember the news of the Bataclan Theater attack. I remember the Facebook post that Antoine wrote that became a viral message to all. This book offers a different perspective that sadly the world faces today with terrorism. We often only see the news that is projected from the national news media. We see pictures constantly plastered of the attackers or are given detains about them. Yet, this book is the personal thoughts and words of a husband who now raises his son alone. The reader will feel the emotions of the crying baby as the father reads a ladybug storybook that his mother with once read. You are given the real life images of the looks, actions, and experience of life after a huge loss. 

Antoine Leiris states, “No one can be healed of death. All they can do is tame it. Death is a wild animal, sharp-fanged. I am just trying to build a cage to keep it locked in. It is there, beside me, drooling as it waits to devour me. The bars of the cage that protect me are made of paper.”

Leiris and Son Photo Credit: Vogue

I appreciate the honesty of Leiris and the gentle reminders to my own actions after a loss. It is so easy to say, “Why me?” or to become bitter. Yet, Leiris doesn’t hold back with his words. It really had me pondering when he stated,  

“Of course, having a culprit, someone to take the brunt of your anger, is an open door, a chance to temporarily escape your suffering. And the more odious the crime, the more ideal the culprit, the more legitimate your hatred. You think about him in order not to think about yourself. You hate him in order not to hate what's left of your life. You rejoice at his death in order not to have to smile at those who remain.”  

It is this that helps him to move forward along with his 18 month old Melvil. 

James Tivendale says it best, You cannot "enjoy" a book like this - but that is the point. It is a memoir of emotions that I hope none of us have to ever feel. Adjusting to the highly unfortunate direction his life has gone; Antoine decides to write a Facebook post to express his state of mind and thoughts to the perpetrators of the macabre acts of that night. It went viral.

This was the Facebook post! 

You will not have my hatred

“Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. I do not know who you are and I do not want to know, you are dead souls. If God, for which you kill blindly made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife has been a wound in His heart. So no, I will not give you this gift to hate you. You have it coming, but if I respond to hatred by anger that would be giving in, to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want I’m afraid, that I should look at my fellow citizens with a look of suspicion, that I sacrifice my freedom for security. Lost. Same player still playing. I saw her this morning. Finally, after days and nights of waiting. She was as beautiful as when she left this Friday night, as beautiful as when I fell in love with here 12 years back. Of course I am devastated by grief, I grant you this small victory, but it will be short lived. I know she will be there with us every day and we will be in this paradise of free souls that you will never have access to. We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I have also no more time for you, I must join Melvil, who wakes up from a nap. He is only 17 months old, he eats his lunch like every day, then we will play like every day and his whole life that little boy will affront you by being happy and free. Because no, you won’t have his hatred either.”

I read this book in less than two hours, I would encourage others to read this heartbreaking book. One will leave with a respect to others grief, understanding of those affected by senseless crimes, and it takes away all power to those who harbor such hate. I highly recommend Antoine Leiris’s book, “You Will Not Have My Hate.”


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