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Showing 1-10 of 10 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 59 reviews
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 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 Bob 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 Bob 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.
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on February 9, 2013
The book, "Facing the Wind", is the true story of Robert Rowe who, in 1977, murdered his wife and 3 children. The story itself is interesting: Rowe is a lawyer who had a lot of issues with his mom (who doesn't? - my kids do too), had a handicapped son, then lost his job. The most interesting part was he was able to convince himself and his doctors that the murders weren't his fault - that he was mentally ill at the time. So he did get off after a short stint in a mental hospital, went on to marry a younger woman and have another child. So I guess I didn't like the book because the man got away with murder. But that is not the author's fault. She wrote an interesting book. I would never read this book again.
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Julie Salamon is a fine journalist. The Devil's Candy is one of the best behind-the-scenes books ever written about Hollywood movie-making. She has the rare ability to observe and narrate the details of what is happening without ever intruding upon the facts by pushing her personal opinions at the reader. That is also true of this highly affecting tale, even though Salamon herself is actually involved in the final portion of the book.
I found Facing The Wind fascinating but heavy-going. I don't think there was any other possible way for the author to get the story told, and to compel us to consider the horror inherent in knowing a man who, in the depths of emotional anguish and extreme mental turmoil, killed his family. In examining this "life after death," Salamon puts a positively biblical dilemma on the table for us to consider: Does a man who takes the lives of his family while mentally ill have the right to a "second" life upon returning to a sane state? Does he have the right to practise law? And how/why does a young woman not only marry this man but live with the truth of what he's done?
The first section, dealing with the parents of blind and/or disabled children is informative, harrowing and inspiring; everyone comes fully to life, which is why the second and third parts of the book work so well: because we've been fully introduced to all the people and their children. We've also had a crash course in the monstrous difficulties encountered as the parent(s) of disabled children.
This is a book that will have you debating with yourself for hours, even days after you've finished. It is a very important book, not only because it offers in-depth insight into just how hard it is to be one of those parents, but also because it helps put "normal" parenting into a different perspective--just possibly making us feel that much luckier at having "whole" children.
Most highly recommended.
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on May 3, 2001
There is no suspense about the facts of the story that forms the basis of this book. Bob Rowe, a loving husband and father, beat his wife and three children to death with a baseball bat in 1978. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and served approximately three years in a criminal psychiatric ward. Upon his release he remarried and had another child. This book isn't your typical true crime book. Julie Salamon isn't interested in finding out the truth about what happened - that's already widely known. Instead, the book is an invitation to consider some of the most difficult moral issues in our society: when does insanity excuse a crime?, should mentally ill patients be punished as well as treated?, is it possible to forgive the most horrendous crimes? Frustratingly, there are no definite answers and this case doesn't make the debate any clearer.
Salomon clearly did an excellent job of interviewing a wide variety of people who knew Bob Rowe before and after his crime. All points of view are represented, including unforgiving friends and colleagues and Rowe's extremely sympathetic second wife. Because the Rowe's second son, Christopher, was born severely disabled, the original Rowe family was intimately involved with a support group for parents facing similar challenges with their children. This group was the genesis of Salomon's book, and there is a lot of focus on these brave women and their relationship with Bob and Mary Rowe. Given her reliance upon the memories of these women, it is not surprising that one of Salomon's underlying assumptions is that the strain of raising Christopher somehow contributed to Bob Rowe's breakdown and subsequent murder of his family. I personally thought this was off base. It seemed clear to me that Bob's breakdown was precipitated by his professional failures which existed quite apart from his home life. The assistant DA had it right - this was an ego crime. Bob Rowe was so self-centered that he killed his family so they wouldn't have to witness HIS disgrace as a failed professional. All in all, I found Rowe to be a not very sympathetic character, and I think he offers a persuasive example of why criminals who are found not guilty by reason of insanity should be required to serve the same number of years in a psychiatric facility as they would have to serve if they had been convicted and sent to prison. A finding of not guilty by reason of insanity shouldn't be a get-out-of-jail-free card.
An interesting read that raises as many questions as it answers.
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on April 18, 2001
This is an unusual book, similar to The Adversary, also an account of a man murdering his family in France. In this book, the group of women bonded by their handicapped chldren are heroines to be sure; they should be the primary subject. My problem is with the moral ambivalence of so many people, nearly all we meet but the women's group and one young lawyer who eventually got Bob Rowe disbarred. Rowe murdered his family, was aquitted by reason of insanity, but went on to live a full if troubled life. He himself saw no reason why he should not be allowed to again practice law and many friends, old and new, spoke out in his behalf. The man was a cold-blooded murderer, no matter how depressed and stressed he was. That there are people who can forgive this heinous a crime is a mystery to me and is a dismal reminder of the moral relativism our society has come to embrace.
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on October 22, 2015
excellent and wonderful!
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on November 30, 2014
Excellent book
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VINE VOICEon October 18, 2004
A very intriguing look at mental illness. A very sad story, that is about the death of one family that leads to the creation of another.
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on April 9, 2001
One would think that a book that was given such generous coverage, not to mention a favorable review in The New York Times Book Review would be worth reading. One would be dead wrong. I've been had! What an unforgivable mess was made of an essentially provocative and dramatic human tragedy - Facing the Wind was so poorly written and excecuted that I couldn't even bring myself to care for the victims. That is the real tragedy. I think the reading public has been had by insider nepotism. As a writer for the Times, Julie Salamon enjoyed more than her fair share of exposure. This book and their susquent review does not bode well at all for my future readership or their claims of independent and fair criticism. If Facing the Wind served any purpose at all, it is to expose to ridicule the practices of favoritism that litter the literary scene.
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