[Note: Not only am I an author, I am also an avid reader. It is my hope to offer periodic book reviews to give you a glimpse at my bookshelf, and hopefully encourage you to pick up a good book. Most of what I read is from a Christian worldview, although I do read some secular books from time to time.]
One Light Still Shines – My Life Beyond the Shadows of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting
By Marie Monville
Published 2013 by Zondervan
I’m really not one to read People magazine. Matter-of-fact, I stand in the checkout line at the grocery store looking at those magazine covers and wonder to myself, “who are those people?” But when you are sitting in the hair salon waiting for your color to set, People magazine is about the best reading option available.
And so, that is how I learned about the book One Light Still Shines by Marie Monville – from a People magazine article!
This was actually my second time reading this book. After reading about it in People magazine, I just couldn’t get the book out of my head. So I quickly requested it from my local library. I was thrilled when it came in after just a short wait and read it for the first time over Thanksgiving. I was so struck by the story and Marie’s strong faith that I recommended the book to the Ladies’ Book Club I lead at my church. So, I read it for a second time last month.
Marie Monville was the wife of Charlie Roberts, the man who in October of 2006 barricaded himself in an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, taking ten Amish girls hostage. He shot the girls – killing five of them – before shooting and killing himself.
One Light Still Shines is not the story of the murders, though. Marie categorizes it as a “love story” and the tragedy, though playing a major roll in the book (of course), is not the main focus. Instead, the focus is on God’s great love and His amazing grace and how he sustained Marie and her family throughout this horrible ordeal. It is also the love story of young Marie and Charlie, and the story of God bringing a new love into Marie’s life after the tragedy. It is also a story of the Amish and how they embraced Marie and her family, even going so far as protecting her from the media during Charlie’s burial. Their forgiveness and grace after they had sustained such horrific loss made headlines around the world at the time.
The book was co-written by Cindy Lambert and is extremely well written. Marie’s memories of the past are woven beautifully with the “current” event (the shooting). You get a totally different picture of Charlie Roberts than you would have gotten from media accounts of the time. Also, Marie’s faith is absolutely astounding. It actually may make some Christians feel intimidated and wonder why their own faith isn’t as solid as Marie’s. But honestly, I think her story is so encouraging and does challenge Christians to reach for a deeper relationship with God. God’s miraculous provision over and over again after the tragedy is amazing and will truly build your faith.
Considering the subject matter, One Light Still Shines is fairly easy to read. It flows well and will keep you turning the pages to find out what miraculous thing God does next. It also shows how, even in the darkest times of our lives, God is still there, working to bring beauty from the ashes. You will not get gory details of the murders. Although Marie doesn’t downplay the tragedy in any way, she does not focus on particulars of what happened within the walls of the schoolhouse. There are brief descriptions of her countless interviews with detectives but these are skimmed over fairly lightly. At one point in the book she does go visit one of the Amish families who’s daughter is still in the hospital but that is about the only mention of the aftermath of the victims. I don’t mean this in a negative way, just as information for you to understand this is not a titillating retelling of the events. It is Marie’s story – and God’s story. As Marie says in the book, if you want gruesome details, you can find them on the internet.
One Light Still Shines is an incredibly inspiring book. It will give you hope that no matter what kind of devastation you have experienced in your past, God can redeem it. His light still shines, even in our darkest hours.