For Alison

Finished For Alison by Andy Parker. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Amazon):

A father’s account of the story that captivated America, the murder of his daughter, reporter Alison Parker, on live television, and his inspiring fight for commonsense gun laws in the aftermath.

On August 26, 2015, Emmy Award–winning twenty-four-year-old reporter Alison Parker was murdered on live television, along with her colleague, photojournalist Adam Ward. Their interviewee was also shot, but survived. People watching at home heard the gunshots, and the gunman’s video of the murder, which he uploaded to Facebook, would spread over the internet like wildfire.

In the wake of his daughter’s murder, Andy Parker became a national advocate for commonsense gun safety legislation. The night of the murder, with his emotions still raw, he went on Fox News and vowed to do “whatever it takes to end gun violence in America. Today he is a media go-to each time a shooting rocks the national consciousness, and has worked with a range of other crusaders, like Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Lenny Pozner, whose son was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School and brought suit against Alex Jones and Infowars, who claimed the shooting was staged. In For Alison, Parker shares his work as a powerhouse battling gun violence and gives a plan for commonsense gun legislation that all sides should agree on. He calls out the NRA-backed politicians blocking the legislation, shares his fight against “truthers,” who claim Alison’s murder was fabricated, and reveals what’s ahead in his fight to do whatever it takes to stop gun violence.

Parker’s story is one of great loss, but also resilience, determination, and a call to action. Senator Tim Kaine, also a fierce advocate for commonsense gun laws, contributes a moving foreword.”

One of the most famous lines in The Shawshank Redemption is “Get busy living or get busy dying.” The easiest way to describe this book is that Andy Parker took that quote and turned it into “Get busy fighting or get busy dying.”

You know who Alison Parker is. She and her cameraman (or “photog,” for a fun bit of TV news lingo) Adam Ward were murdered on live television. Now, almost four years later, her father has turned that senseless tragedy into a crusade.

This is a hard book to read. You can feel his heartbreaking grief and his fury on every page. There’s every chance that it will make you cry. At the same time, though, it’s a book about hope, specifically the hope that we will be able to pass common-sense gun control laws. (For example, mandatory background checks with no loopholes and limiting the amount of rounds.)

The most powerful aspect of this is Alison herself. We hear stories about her childhood and her adult life, and it’s so clear that this is a lady who would’ve made the hugest difference in the world. She had such a clear sense of joy and purpose that would’ve changed the world. That makes her murder all the more tragic; we will never see what she would have done. We’re seeing what’s done in her name, however, and that’s still worth a great deal. To paraphrase Cheryl Strayed, “it will never be okay” that Alison’s not here. No matter what comes next, it’s not worth her loss. I feel so grateful to get to see more of her as a person and not as a news story. (In the interest of full disclosure, though, we have a friend in common and, while I never met her, I have already gotten some sense of her. This book is obviously a much better, more complete view.)

This is an amazing book about the worst thing that could possibly happen and a book about turning tragedy into purpose. We all need to get busy fighting, not just for Alison but because any of us could be next.

Highly, highly recommended.

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