Monday, October 12, 2015

Choosing Hope (Kaitlin Roig DeBellis and Robin Gaby Fisher)

How do you move forward after going through a tragedy of unimaginable proportions?  That is something that author (with Robin Gaby Fisher) Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis has not had an easy road determining, but her answer lies in Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours.

A dedicated first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary in a quaint little Connecticut town called Newtown, Roig-DeBellis was in circle time one minute with her primary-age students, and the next, forced to make a spur-of-the-moment decision to save all their lives.  It was the young educator’s quick thinking that piled her entire class into a bathroom not big enough for even one adult.  Not knowing if any of them were going to make it out alive, she tried to keep the children calm as they could hear the horror happening all around them.  After they were led out of the ravaged school by police and into the arms of waiting parents, the trauma Roig-DeBellis and her class faced became all too real.  This is where the story of Choosing Hope really begins.

Most people know the story of Sandy Hook based on what they have read and seen on the television.  However, what makes Choosing Hope so inspirational is that Roig-DeBellis has learned not to let that unbearable day define her; in fact, she even mentions that readers can skip the chapters about the shootings if they wish because that’s not what the book is about.  With much therapy and the loving support of her family, husband, ex-students and their parents, the author has chosen instead to make some good come out of this tragedy.  She has left teaching (not by choice), but has developed a nonprofit called Classes 4 Classes, where classrooms across the nation adopt other classrooms in need.

Roig-DeBellis doesn’t sugarcoat anything and is completely honest. However, readers expecting a minute-by-minute account of December 14, 2012 should turn elsewhere.  Choosing Hope is about one woman’s journey to remember all those that died that day by giving to others and choosing to reframe her thoughts.