#BookReview: You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris


About the Book

What matters most in life? How do you build a happy life when terrible things happen? What is left behind when you lose the person you love the most?

One night last winter, Antoine Leiris was at home looking after his son while his wife, Hélène, was at a concert with friends. Suddenly he started receiving text messages asking if he was ok. Turning on the TV, Antoine watched the terrorist attacks in Paris unfolding around him and tried to call Hélène. She didn’t answer. That night Hélène was killed, along with 88 other people, at the Bataclan Theatre.

Three days later, Antoine wrote an open letter to his wife’s killers on Facebook. He refused to be cowed or to let his 17-month-old son’s life be defined by their acts. ‘For as long as he lives, this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom,’ he wrote. Instantly, that short post caught fire and was shared thousands of times around the world.

You Will Not Have My Hate is an extraordinary and heartbreaking memoir about how Antoine, and his baby son Melvil, endured after Hélène’s murder. With courage, moral acuity, and absolute emotional honesty, he finds a way to answer the question, how can I go on? This is the rare and unforgettable testimony of a survivor, and a universal message of hope and resilience. This book is a guiding star for us all in perilous times.

My Thoughts

I recently heard Antoine Leiris being interviewed on the radio and knew right away that this was a book I wanted to read. I’m so pleased I was given the opportunity to read and review it.

This is an incredibly moving and powerful memoir about a man who lost his wife in the Bataclan during the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris just over a year ago. Antoine is very honest and straightforward about how he is feeling and how he is grieving, but he also keeps a lot back to be private for himself and his young son and I absolutely respect that.

This book stems from a poem that Antoine wrote days after the attack in which he refused to give the terrorists his hate, and he stays true to that throughout the book. The pain and heartache radiates from the page throughout this book, but there is a resoluteness in the writing that honours Antoine’s need to not give his hate. I shed tears whilst reading this book, and after finishing just had to sit quietly and reflect for a while.

I can’t even begin to imagine what Antoine has gone through and what he still has to face in the future. I was really moved by how he chose to allow others to do things that they felt were helpful, even though he didn’t wish for it to be done; yet ultimately it helped him in other ways than was expected when the help was given. It really gave me pause for thought.

This book is simply stunning and I recommend that everyone reads it. It’s one man’s journey through grief but it contains so many lessons for us all – not least in not allowing hate to define us.

I received this book from Harvill Secker via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

10 thoughts on “#BookReview: You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

  1. I’ve heard of this one, and it does sound moving. I admit I’ve not (yet) read it, but I keep hearing that it’s very deeply affecting. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I was surprised but happy when this title appeared on my Twitter feed with a mention of a review. I am glad you enjoyed this story. I was waiting for the English version to get it and it’s on my reading plans for February. It still feels a bit too soon for me to read it.

    • It’s an incredible book. I wanted to read it after hearing Antoine being interviewed on the radio a few weeks ago. He is such an unassuming and private man and yet his book conveys such love, and leaves you with a sense of hope even after all he has been through. I think it’s a book that you have to be in the right mind space to read because it is such an emotional read.

  3. I admire the author for producing this when his grief must still be so raw – I imagine it was cathartic, a defiant act too. A very arresting cover, too, and his retort to the terrorists has gone round the globe.

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