Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
A look at the limits of love, grace and forgiveness...
on April 11, 2001
How would any of us react if someone we thought we knew well, a respected member of our community, suddenly beat his family to death with a baseball bat? And how would we react if we knew he'd remarried years later and started a new family? As riveting as these questions may be, they are only part of what made this book so fascinating to me. What made it unforgettable was how it made me think about the limits of love and forgiveness and how several families were put to the test in circumstances as horrendous as this. Please be aware that this is NOT your usual true crime book, although it is based on true events and the writer does try to make sense of a crime most of us would consider senseless- the murder of 4 members of a family, the Rowes, by the husband/father of that family, a man considered by friends and neighbors to be a loving and attentive parent and spouse. But it goes beyond the murder to give a riveting, detailed portrait of several families and how they lived both before and after this crime tore apart their community. These families had one thing in common - all of them had children with physical or emotional disabilities and the mothers in those families belonged to a support group. The author of this book, Julie Salamon, shows how each person was affected by the challenge of having a handicapped child and how they turned to the Rowes for guidance and inspiration. While some readers might find this part of the book irrelevant and even tedious, I did not. It not only made me think about the unusual stresses faced by families who have children with special needs but it revealed the Rowe family through the eyes of those closest to them. The Rowes were seen as role models and ideals, a family that was dealing with their disabled son as best they could, even better than many others would. The supposed stability of this family is what makes the murders so much more shocking and the author of this book doesn't hesitate to reveal the events leading up to the murder and the spiraling depression that overwhelms John Rowe. But she doesn't stop there. She goes on to show his life after institutionalization, his remarriage and eventual death - and then the meeting of his 2nd wife and the women who'd been close to his first wife. Many of them are still angry, baffled and judgmental. I won't reveal the ending of this book to you but will say if you have the willingness to stick with this one, I think you'll find it will force you to think about grace and forgiveness in even the worst circumstances. I admit I'm not sure I don't understand a man like John Rowe but I'll never forget him or his family and I'll be thinking about this book and the issue it raised for a long time.