The astonishing story of one man’s recovery in the face of traumatic loss—and a powerful meditation on the resilience of the soul
On July 23, 2007, Dr. William Petit suffered an unimaginable horror: Armed strangers broke into his suburban Connecticut home in the middle of the night, bludgeoned him nearly to death, tortured and killed his wife and two daughters, and set their house on fire. He miraculously survived, and yet living through those horrific hours was only the beginning of his ordeal. Broken and defeated, Bill was forced to confront a question of ultimate consequence: How does a person find the strength to start over and live again after confronting the darkest of nightmares?
In The Rising, acclaimed journalist Ryan D’Agostino takes us into Bill Petit’s world, using unprecedented access to Bill and his family and friends to craft a startling, inspiring portrait of human strength and endurance. To understand what produces a man capable of surviving the worst, D’Agostino digs deep into Bill’s all-American upbringing, and in the process tells a remarkable story of not just a man’s life, but of a community’s power to shape that life through its embrace of loyalty and self-sacrifice as its most important values. Following Bill through the hardest days—through the desperate times in the aftermath of the attack and the harrowing trials of the two men responsible for it—The Rising offers hope that we can find a way back to ourselves, even when all seems lost.
Today, Bill Petit has remarried. He and his wife have a baby boy. The very existence of this new family defies rational expectation, and yet it confirms our persistent, if often unspoken, belief that we are greater than what befalls us, and that if we know where to look for strength in trying times, we will always find it. Bill’s story, told as never before in The Rising, is by turns compelling and uplifting, an affirmation of the inexhaustible power of the human spirit.
Who doesn’t remember the horrible things that happened to the Petit family? We all read the headlines and heard about the terrible murders of a mom and two daughters. However, as usually happens, once the story is replaced in the headlines, we don’t give much thought to what happens afterward to the survivors. This book gives us some insight into how Bill has moved forward in his life.
I wasn’t sure if I would like this book and almost didn’t read it because I was nervous that it would be too gruesome. Fortunately, D’Agostino focused more on the lives of the women in the Petit family and not on their murders. He then turned his attention to how Bill faced life as the sole survivor in his family. I found the detail of the trials interesting and was glad to read about the conviction of the murderers.
The best part about this book was reading about the strength of character of Bill’s new wife. It would take a very special woman to provide the kind of love and support that Bill needs after living through the tragedy that he has. I was also very relieved that D’Agostino didn’t dwell on the details of the murders. The basic facts are enough to create nightmares!
If you ever wonder about the story behind the headlines, this is a great book to read. It is a story of survival, not just of Bill’s survival, but the survival of an entire extended family.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.