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Wednesday, May 9th, 2001


Facing the Wind: A True Story of Tragedy and Reconciliation

by Julie Salamon

A review by Adrienne Miller

THE QUESTIONS: In 1978, a Brooklyn lawyer named Bob Rowe murdered his wife and three children with a baseball bat. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and then went on to remarry. Was this fair? Was it fair that afterward he wasn't allowed to practice law? Was it fair that his second child had been born profoundly retarded? Was it right that Bob Rowe's life caused him such despair in the first place?

THE BACKDROP: In 1965, Mary Rowe gave birth to her second child, a boy named Christopher. While Christopher's birth defects weren't apparent until he was a few days old, it soon became clear that he was severely, severely handicapped. (Mary learned later that she had been exposed to the Rubella virus when she was pregnant.) Mary, by all accounts a supremely good mother and a great person, was a heroine at her support group for the mothers of disabled children; she seemed to...manage so incredibly well. Not so her husband, Bob, who, after bashing four heads in with a baseball bat, "described the killing of his family matter-of-factly, and though he seemed to be on the verge of tears, he didn't cry. His face was impassive when he said, 'I feel as though I am in a dream.'" This is a harrowing book, a deeply painful, bleak, and searching work of nonfiction about love, loss, forgiveness, and, above all else, morals.

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