In 2015, terrorists attacked six different sites in Paris, killing 130 people. A large number of those victims came from the Bataclan Theater, where Helene Muyal-Leiris was attending a concert. While there were survivors of the attack on the Bataclan, Helene was not among that number. With Helene’s death, Antoine Leiris lost his wife and the mother of his child. It is this tragic loss and Antoine’s struggle to move forward that serves as a backdrop for the raw, powerful emotions that are portrayed throughout the beautiful, heart-wrenching You Will Not Have My Hate.
The memoir is structured in short, conversational passages that begin on the night of the attack and end two weeks later. Antoine details everything from his initial concern and then panic on the night of the attacks, to the deep sorrow, desire for isolation, and appreciation for support in the days that followed. Each passage builds a portrait of a man who lost half his heart, but recognized the need to remain strong to raise his son, Melvil.
Antoine’s honesty makes this entire narrative incredibly impactful. The grace and bravery, in which he describes the void left by his wife’s absence and his concerns at being solely responsible for his son, pull the reader into the tragedy to create an emotional link. As I read Antione describe talking with a friend who was with Helene at the Bataclan and survived, I couldn’t help feel like I was experiencing the panic, sadness, and grief that Antoine describes.
While Antoine’s motivation to construct this narrative spun out of an open letter he posted on Facebook to the terrorists, it is the letter he includes at the end of the book that transforms the story from a powerful narrative to an unforgettable emotional testament of strength and courage. He constructs a letter to Helene from Melvil that is so emotional and honest, that it is one of the best pieces of writing I believe I’ve read.
Throughout this book, Antoine shares a journey through his panic, grief, and resilience. He describes each day after his wife’s death in such raw, emotional detail that each turn of the page forces the reader to consider how fragile life is and the importance of our loved ones. When I finished this, I hugged my family a little tighter and a little longer than normal and for that reason, You Will Not Have My Hate is one of the most well written, impactful stories I’ve ever recommended.
After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.