I started reading Doreen M. McGettigan’s real life account about the murder of her younger brother David in the spring of 1998 one late night between Christmas 2012 and New Year 2013 when I was blessed with plenty of free time and an luxury of indulging myself in uninterrupted reading. I was really glad that I picked her memoir out among the 100＋ To-Read books on my GoodReads list.
In order not to spoil your fun to pick up the book to read for yourself, I will not be revealing much of the plot, surface to say that the story began with a brutal gang attack in an American small town called Bristol (not to be confused with the English city) in the State of Pennsylvania. It is told through the voice of a heart-broken big sister and follows her through the aftermath of the tragedy, and how it has affected her extended family, each dealing with the trauma in his/her own way. It is about very personal experiences of pain and loss, grief and grievances throughout and following a drown-out court case.
As I turned each page, I was completely immersed with what was happening in that small town far away. The author’s personal and effective way of relaying the events took me along to a journey. I was often sad and tearful, feeling her pain, her anger and her frustrations. I so wanted her and her family to get the justice and I was rooting for her all the way.
This is a story which I can relate to on many levels, both personally and professionally. Although the incident took place in a different continent, in a place as alien to me as another planet in some ways, I was able to visualize, feel and imagine exactly what happened and how it impacted the author, her family and ultimately the whole town. From the details and insights the author provided, I was able to identify both the similarities and differences between the American and British legal systems. Like the author across the pond, I have been personally involved with a legal case (taking my former employer to an Employment tribunal in Trials of Life, around the same time this tragedy hit her family in America). Professionally as an interpreter for courts and the Police in the UK, I have been to many court trials, including murder trials, so I can relate to many of the author’s personal angst, anger and disappointments. I could keenly feel how eagerly the victims of crime seek justice and closure, at the same time being frustrated by the legal process and a bureaucratic system, further complicated by politics and elections.
I was glad that the author was able to get beyond this traumatic process and came out the other end, battling successfully against depression and many other barriers in her life. She was able to get something positive out of her trials and tribulations. There were upbeat and uplifting messages throughout this book which will help other victims of senseless crimes to deal with their heartaches and post traumatic stress.
This is a wonderfully written, deeply touching memoir which I would highly recommend to everyone.