Monday, June 6, 2016

The Rising: Murder, Heartbreak, and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town


Book Review: The Rising: Murder, Heartbreak, and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town

True crime books are not for the faint of heart and too often turn the spotlight on the criminal trial. Author Ryan D'Agostino's well-crafted story about the horrific 2007 murders of the Petit family skillfully covers all the details and forensics while focusing on the one lone survivor: Dr. William Petit.

For the Petit family, the nightmare began when strangers broke into their suburban Connecticut home. Finding Dr. Petit asleep in a downstair sunroom, the assailants began their night of horror by beating Petit nearly to death with a ball bat. Miraculously, he survived; but barely. They tied him up rather than finish him off and moved on to the next victims, the wife and daughters. 

After binding the children, Hayley and Michaela, and Dr. Petit's wife, Jennifer, the house was scoured for valuables and cash. The disapointing haul let to the second phase of the crime as they forced Jennifer Hawke-Petit to go to their bank and withdraw a large sum of money. The promise of her family's safety must have given her pause; truly, these were not men who could be trusted. In a final act of unimaginable courage, she managed to pass on information about the ongoing crime. The cashier would later describe Jennifer as "petrified" as she was able to relay the details of their plight. The bank employee immediately notified local police who raced toward the family home. 

After returning to the house, the violation of the Petit family continued without mercy. Tied to a pole in the basement, Dr. Petit heard the rape of his wife and a comment from one of the attackers: "It will all be over soon." Investigators would later learn that his daughters were not spared the same indignity. Dr. Petit managed to excape and crawled towards a neighbor's yard, in spite of injuries were so severe that he was unrecognizable.  Realizing they were in over their heads, the attackers doused the house and victims with gasoline, set the home afire and attempted to escape in the family car - only to be met with by the police and captured. 

In the aftermath, Dr. Petit awoke in the hospital and found he was the only survivor of the prolonged assault. Yet, his life would go on and the story of his struggle to find his way and ultimate recreation of his life is heartbreaking in its details but ultimately, unbelievably, a story of resilience and hope. 

[I received this book free from the Blogging for Books program, in exchange for my honest review.] 

8 comments:

  1. This was such a hideous crime that I don't think I could read this book, even though it might be extremely well written.

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    1. Reading is a passion of mine and when I hear about some of these terrible tragedies, I always ask myself how it is that a person has the strength to get through it. In this book, I was impressed not by any Herculean display of strength but by the reality and resilency of Dr. Petit. He retreated, wrestled with the aftermath, did what he had to honor his family and participate in the trials - and in the end, he did remarry and now has a son. That's amazing to me.

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  2. Reading your review was upsetting. I'm not sure I could read this. I wish Dr. Petit well.

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    1. Then don't read it! Reading should be something you enjoy, either for fun or for informatin. I am drawn to all sorts of personal stories of struggle and redemption. I read a lot of biography and also stories that cover historical events, but I won't read a crime story unless the perpetrator was caught.

      Dr. Petit re-married and has a son now.

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  3. I am in shock after reading your post!!

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    1. I couldn't get it out of my mind--I just bought it!!

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  4. This is beyond disgusting and so horrible. This is when I think the death penalty should be around when the evidence is so overwhelming and it beyond circumstantial plus the crimes are so horrific. I feel so badly for the family and can't help but feel this man will keep this nightmare with him all his days.

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    1. It was difficult to edit down to a managable synopsis. The crime is the catalyst for all of it and you really have to know how bad it was to understand how miraculous it is that this poor man can even hold his head up. But he did come through it and start a new life.

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo