The Rising by Ryan D’Agostino
How does a person continue on living life after tragedy? How do we understand senseless violence on our own front door? These questions pervade the terrain of Ryan D’Agostino’s new book entitled The Rising: Murder, Heartbreak, and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town. Ryan, the editor in chief of Popular Mechanics magazine has latched to this true story of murder, heartbreak, and resilience with a moving narrative that captures all the ups and downs of such a catastrophic event.
The Rising focuses on the story of Dr. William Petit and his family, a family living in suburban Connecticut. The narrative centers on July 23rd, 2007 when armed men came into their house, almost bludgeoned Dr. Petit to death, raped his younger daughter, killed all the girls in his family, including his wife, and torched the house in flames. The perpetrators wanted cash and decided that a doctor and his nurse wife would be a promising pair with much in their wallets. To their surprise, only one daughter had roughly $103 in cash and gift cards. The story continues on in harrowing detail about Bill, losing dangerous amounts of blood and being tied to a poll in the basement. By the time he freed his hands from the pole, it was too late (78).
The beauty, if there is anything beautiful in the story is the way Bill speaks about his girls at their funeral. Ryan intimates, “He doesn’t talk about evil. He doesn’t talk about sorrow. For twenty-two minutes he talks only about his girls, about their lives, their accomplishments, the little things they did that made him feel lucky. He tells stories (101).” It is in this touching tribute to the life that his girls had, their stories that had such an effect on him, that is where some healing begins. He ends his words with an admonition to “…go forward with the inclination to live with a faith that embodies action – help a neighbor, fight for a cause, love your family (101-102).” These last words would in turn help generate the motivation for Bill’s Foundation.
The rest of the story tells the details about the two trials related to the case and a part on Bill’s marriage to the bartender at the golf club that Bill was a member of. This book is a gripping tale of loss and tragedy, but it is not without its wisdom. One of the remarkable points in this entire book is Bill’s insistence that sometimes grief like this does not go away but you learn to live in a way to honor those whom you’ve lost.
Thanks to Blogging for Books and Crown Publishers for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.