Facing the Wind: A True Story of Tragedy and Reconciliation
Julie Salamon / Author Random House (NY) $24.95 (320p) ISBN 97
This true-crime story reaches beyond the relatively narrow focus of the genre to ask painful and provocative questions about guilt and forgiveness. In 1978, Bob Rowe, an out-of-work Brooklyn lawyer, killed his two sons, his daughter and wife by bashing their heads in with a baseball bat. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and after several years in a mental institution was released. He later remarried and had another daughter. Although journalist Salamon (Net of Dreams) did not interview Rowe before his death in 1977, this expertly crafted account is informed by diligent research and interviews with his second wife, Colleen, as well as with a women's support group to which Rowe's first wife, Mary, had belonged. This group was made up of mothers whose children, like Rowe's son Christopher, were born with severe physical impairments. One of the strengths of Salamon's sensitive narrative is her depiction of these mothers and how they dealt with the strain of raising disabled children. The Rowe's seemingly good marriage and his deep involvement in Christopher's care made Mary's murder all the more incomprehensible to the women, who never forgave him. Salamon adequately details Rowe's depression and subsequent mental breakdown that preceded the killings. She also describes how he painfully built a new life and found Colleen, who forgave him for his past. After her husband's death, Colleen met with the members of Mary's support group. Salamon provides a riveting account of this meeting, where Colleen attempts to explain why she loved her husband, and the women try to understand how she could forgive him. National publicity. (Apr.) Forecast: Salamon is a contributor to the New York Times, so this title will be widely reviewed-and many of those reviews will be highly positive. This book will have legs, and strong blurbs from Ted Conover and Anne Fadiman, among others, will give it a first big step.
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001