An Unseen Angel, by Alissa Parker
2017, 192p, Inspirational Non-Fiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way
As the mother of one of the children who died at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, Alissa Parker had her world shattered by a mass murderer's rampage. She was left to make sense of her daughter's life and death and to rebuild, seeking a deeply spiritual path to carry on with her life and find new meaning and purpose.
As a co-founder of SafeandSoundSchools.org, a touring national advocacy group that helps people take action to make schools safer, Alissa has talked to hundreds of parents around the country about her ordeal and how she was able to endure the unspeakable horror of Sandy Hook.
An Unseen Angel takes readers though Alissa's complete journey, chronicling the moment-by-moment account of the day that began with every parent's worst nightmare: hearing, "There's been a shooting at your child's school." It follows her faith-filled spiritual path to coping, healing, forgiving, and eventually feeling gratitude for the life and love of her daughter Emilie. She describes a bond of love between a mother and daughter that is so profound it transcends the physical body and touches Alissa and the people who loved Emilie who feel her presence every day. And she articulates her deep Christian faith, which guided the answers to Alissa's gut-wrenching, post-tragedy questioning:
"Where is Emilie now?"
"Can love transcend the physical body?"
"How can I know that Emilie is in a better place?"
"How do I deal with the 'here and now' when the pain and anger I feel is so overwhelming?"
This is the first book about the school-shooting tragedies with a focus on faith and spirituality. As we learn Alissa's story, we are introduced to a special little girl who was wise beyond her years and whose lessons about life and the transcendent power of love continued even after she had passed away.
I was deeply saddened when I heard about the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14, 2012. What a devastating loss for so many families so close to Christmas. I remember seeing pictures of Emilie Parker and feeling so sad for her parents. I haven't lost a child so I can't imagine the grief they experienced during that time. In this book, Alissa Parker opens up and shares exactly how she felt.
She starts by describing her life with Emilie and how much time they spent together and the fun things they did. Then, she describes that horrible day and the shock she and her husband felt as it didn't seem like it was really happening. I cried as I lived through that with them and I didn't want it to be real, either.
In the next part, she shares how she has coped with her loss. I love how raw and honest her story is as she shares the emotions and experiences that have brought her to where she is today. I cried through most of this book as I experienced her grief, anger, sadness, faith and hope. This is an emotional read which left me feeling uplifted, inspired and hopeful. Bad things happen to good people and we have the ability to forgive and look forward to the future, even when it looks completely different than we imagined it at one point in time. You don't have to experience this type of loss to feel inspired by her story and want to live a better life. This is the type of book I would highly recommend to everyone!!
Alissa Parker is the mother of Emilie Parker, one of the twenty children who died tragically in the Sandy Hook school shootings on December 14, 2012. After Emilie's death, Alissa began The Parker Five blog as a tool to express the emotions she and her family have experienced throughout the grieving process. Alissa is a stay-at-home mom and an avid photographer. She is also the cofounder of safeandsoundschools.org, which focuses on helping communities make their schools safer, and The Emilie Parker Art Connection, a charity helping local community art programs for children.