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A Rip in Heaven: A Memoir of Murder And Its Aftermath Paperback – June 1, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On the night of April 4, 1991, during a spring-break family vacation to St. Louis, Cummins's 19-year-old brother, Tom, and his two female cousins were attacked while walking on the abandoned Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. During the attack, the girls were raped; afterward, all three were pushed off the bridge by the four assailants. Tom survived; the girls did not. Cummins presents a mesmerizing, highly balanced memoir of the events, writing in the third person to give readers "an intimate knowledge of each facet of the story." She introduces her own family, referring to herself by her childhood nickname, and then does the same for each of the assailants, thoughtfully painting an in-depth portrait of each character without ever passing judgment. Moreover, she takes what could be cold, dry factual information from "court documents, police records, electronic media" and her own interviews and deftly weaves them into a compelling, novel-like account. She explores the family's initial horror over the police holding Tom as a suspect for this crime that made national headlines. (One of the attackers wound up with a 30-year plea; the others are currently on death row.) For someone so closely related to a crime victim to strike such a fine balance in chronicling it is a highly admirable feat. Cummins's noble account will ultimately draw readers into all sides of the story. 8 pages of photos not seen by PW.
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Review

"Cummins presents a mesmerizing, highly balanced memoir of the events, writing in the third person to give readers an intimate knowledge of each facet of the story.Cummins's noble account will ultimately draw readers into all sides of the story."—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451210530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451210531
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeanine Cummins is the bestselling author of the groundbreaking memoir A RIP IN HEAVEN and award winning novel THE OUTSIDE BOY. She worked in the publishing industry for ten years before becoming a full-time writer. She was born in Spain, and has lived in California, Maryland, Belfast, and New York City, where she remains now with her Irish husband and growing family. THE CROOKED BRANCH is her second novel.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Not all, but most of us have grown up with fond memories of family gatherings - whether frequent or infrequent, with cousins near in age whom we admired or admired us, all of the good times thought about during the course of our daily lives.

For this family, happiness and normal life as they knew it came to a sudden hault as a horror they never expected unfolded before them. Read this book. The author is able to give you a true account of what really went on because she is the sister of one of the victims, Tom and cousin to the other two victims, Julie and Robin.

This story will give you an idea of how the justice system can sometimes work under pressure to solve a murder case. Eventually the truth comes out but a lot of people can go through a living hell before that happens.

After I read a true crime story, I try to find as much information as possible regarding the case, written by other sources. I was sickened by some of the information I found fighting for the lives of those convicted of this horrific crime. That is just a personal opinion though.

You will get to know the deceased through this book, and perhaps question your higher power on why such valuable lives are taken in such a violent way. I felt I came to know the victims as if I'd gone to school with them. I never knew them but I miss them.
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Format: Paperback
Tink (Cummins) did an outstanding job of documenting a terrible event and the aftermath that affects the victims and their families. She invites the readers into her tight-knit family with open arms and once you are in the family circle, her vivid description of this horrific night and the years that follow consumes you. This book is a great eye opener for all of those "psycho-killer" followers (American Justice or Cold Case Files viewers) and gives a very balanced and poiniant perspective on the people who matter -- the victims.
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By A Customer on June 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
So much of what we see in the media today sensationalizes the brutality of crime and in some sense celebrates the monsters who commit them. The stories become about them, and the victims and their families are all too quickly forgotten.
Thanks to Jeanine Cummins, we get an insightful look into one family's ordeal, their struggle to come to terms with the sensation that rose up around the case and how the media focuses all too often on the criminals.
But at its heart, this is a loving tribute to her lost cousins, Robin and Julie. This book serves, beautifully, in taking their story and remembering truly what has been lost. For over a decade, the focus has been on the bad guys who she portrays quite evenly given her closeness to the subject matter. Now the story has been take back as a fitting memoir to her cousins, told with an insight into what it means to be victimized that we could all stand to learn from.
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Format: Paperback
A job well done for a first-time author. I know that it must have been extremely difficult to write about something so close to home and actually have to document some horribly graphic details about violations that happened to people she loved and loves. She's a very strong person for having the courage to write this book in efforts to tell readers about her cousins, be a voice for her brother, and describe how tragedies affect families, not just individuals. It's easy for us review-writers to sit back and say whether a book was great or it sucked or we think she's doing this for "fame and fortune" (directed to Alert Reviewer from Bridgton, MO). The fact (and "The Truth") is that we would never have the balls to do what she has done and I don't think any of us would want to go through what Julie, Robin, Tom or their families have gone through in exchange for any amount of fame or fortune. Anyone who thinks that this is the sole reason she went through five years of writing and research hell, ridiculous interview questions from dirty cops, and cold shoulders from some family members needs to put themselves in her shoes. Would you go through all that for what a first- author gets paid for their book?(Which is not much -- I can assure you.) No one with their right mind would. We would only do it to memorialize the ones we love, to help other families who have suffered tragedies themselves, and because our brother, who has to live with the memory of this incident for the rest of his life, asked us to. Just like Tink.
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Format: Paperback
It was a good idea when Jeanine Cummins decided to write this very informative and true story of what happened to her cousins on the awful night during Spring break on the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis. It is one thing to hear the media views and what you see on the television, but this however, is an heartfelt account told by the Jeanine `Tink' Cummins. She tells us of the day-to-day agony of what these families went through during the investigations, and how this trial affected their lives. Not only for the girls who were thrown off the bridge, but for poor Tom Cummins as well, who at first was held as a suspect. I felt every bit of pain that I imagined he and his family suffered,
but I was glad for the wonderful tribute that Tink paid to her cousins enlightening the truth of the principles that Julie and Robin Kerry stood for.
Jeanine Cummins did a great job with this story for the people
who never got to hear the real truth.
Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE 03/01/05)
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