cover image Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours

Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours

Kaitlin Roig-Debellis, with Robin Gaby Fisher. Putnam, $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-399-17445-2

When a gunman stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., killing 26 people—including 20 children—in 2012, teacher Roig-Debellis swiftly herded her 15 first-graders into a cramped bathroom, where they sat in quiet terror for 45 minutes until rescue arrived. In this memoir, Roig-Debellis, writing with Fisher, recounts that tragic day. The author shares details of her past as an adopted child raised in a loving middle-class family in a Connecticut town. Early on, she knew her career goal; inspired by her fifth-grade teacher, she vowed to become a “dedicated educator, a counselor, a mentor, and a life guide.” Little did she know how literally that wish would manifest (readers are forewarned that they may wish to skip a portion of the “My Darkest Hour” section, though the retelling is handled with great care). Following the tragedy, Roig-Debellis advocates for her students, insisting upon an extended delay in return to school. Eventually classes resume in a different location, but the author’s pleas for extra safety measures for her traumatized students are ultimately denied. Not to be deterred from her mission to help others, Roig-Debellis initiates Classes 4 Classes, an online nonprofit that enables kids to help other kids. The memoir not only dramatically conveys how swiftly an “ordinary” life can change, but also probes the depth of the struggle to rise from despair to hope. [em]Agent: Hannah Gordon, Foundry Literary + Media. (Oct.) [/em]