Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Newtown: An American Tragedy by Matthew Lysiak

Newtown:  An American Tragedy by Matthew Lysiak, 264 pages

I am not sure words can express how this book touched me.  This is the first detailed account written on the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. December 14, 2012 changed the world forever.  I remember how I felt the moment I heard about this shooting on the news.  It was one of disbelief.  I felt the reports must have the numbers wrong.  How could one individual murder 20 students and 6 educators in only 2 classrooms.  The first accounts identified Ryan Lanza as the shooter and Nancy Lanza as a teacher at the school.  That made a little more sense.  The shooter had probably gone to the school to kill his mother who had possibly been one of the teachers at the school.  My immediate thoughts were who could possibly shoot 20 innocent 6 year olds?  Who is so cruel and heartless?

Details began to come in.  That day we found out it was Adam Lanza who committed the crime, but not before first shooting his mother, Nancy, in the head at their home.  What Matthew Lysiak writes is taken from numerous accounts of that tragic day.  This book is extremely well written, one of the best I have read in years.  It is shocking and chilling.  It is written with extreme sensitivity to the lives of the children that were lost that day and to the families who lost loved ones.  Words cannot describe how I was moved by the details of that tragic day.  He details every step Adam Lanza made that day.  The author pieces everything together for the reader from Adam's childhood until the very end of his life.

Adam Lanza's upbringing was not typical.  He was a very troubled child stemming not from just being autistic but also from suffering from mental illness.  He was also very troubled by his parents divorce, which Nancy Lanza received a large amount of alimony, close to a quarter of a million dollars.  The book also details Adam's passion for the military, guns, and violent video games from a young age. His mother took him shooting from the age of four and encouraged his passion for shooting.  Nancy also purchased all his guns for him.  The book paints her as a devoted mother, but also a mother who was very troubled by her young son's behavior. I just could not help asking myself throughout the book if she new how troubled her son was why did she continue to keep buying him guns and leave him alone for days while she was away on spa vacations?

I for one was changed by this tragedy.  It affected every parent who sends their child to school believing they are safe.  Sandy Hook Elementary did everything right.  The school was secured and had a buzzer system, but that did not stop Adam Lanza from entering the school; he shot his way in. The school went on lock down, although some classrooms did not have locks, the teachers were trained on intruder alerts.  I also believe if it happened at Sandy Hook, it can happen anywhere. I also pray that an event so horrific as this never happens again.  One last note of irony, in the book it was written that first grade was probably one of Adam's more happier school years.


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