Book Review: “One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting” by Marie Monville

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The Shooter’s Wife Recalls the Amish School Shooting

Marie had just come from leading a Moms in Touch prayer meeting at church, praying for children at the local elementary school in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

I had just poured myself a cup of coffee when the phone rang. I picked it up in the kitchen. It was 11:00 a.m.

“Marie, it’s me.”

And that was all it took for me to sense some unfathomable evil lurking just steps away. I’d never heard Charlie’s voice sound like this before, not in almost ten years of marriage. Something was horribly wrong.

“Charlie, what’s going on?” Had something happened to my dad? The kids? An accident? His voice was tense with…with what? Grief? Pain? Fear?

“I’m not coming home.”

With that introduction, Marie Monville began unfolding how she learned with horror about the murders her husband had committed on that day – October 2, 2006. She struggled to comprehend what the detectives told her when they came to her door: the only man she had ever loved, who she describes as a loving husband and father, a hard-working provider, and a churchgoing Christian, had barricaded himself inside an Amish school and shot 10 innocent girls execution-style before killing himself. Her life and the lives of her Amish neighbors, families who she knew, had now been changed forever.

Tragedy and Forgiveness at Nickel Mines

One Light Still Shines

One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting

In this first-hand account,One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting, Marie describes her life growing up among the Amish in Lancaster County, her family life with Charlie, and how that tragic day affected her, her three young children, and the Amish community.

There are a number of special moments she shares with her readers.

The afternoon of the shooting she watched out the window while a group of Amish men approached her father outside the home. Each of those men had had a family member inside the schoolhouse that morning. Instead of showing anger or bitterness, they asked if Marie was alright, if her children were safe, and if they could do anything to help. They came to share that they had forgiven Charlie for what he had done.

She described how it was the Amish who actually helped shield her and her children from all the reporters and photographers that were present to cover Charlie’s funeral. And how she hugged and grieved with the mother of two of the girls Charlie had killed at the school.  “To my utter disbelief, all the parents of the girls lost at the schoolhouse had come to grieve with me – to be certain that I knew I was not alone.”

Marie also wrote about her recollections of growing up in rural Lancaster, learning about the Amish culture that was around her, and interacting with the Amish on a regular basis.

She described the agony she and Charlie shared when their first daughter was born prematurely, and only lived for 20 minutes. Her next pregnancy also resulted in complications, and that baby didn’t survive either. Eventually they had three children and shared a happy family life together.

She also explained how loving relationships eventually returned to her and her family when she later met and married Dan Monville.

In her story Marie describes how it was her faith, her extended family, and the caring community around her that helped pull her and her children through the suffering.

Her descriptions of dealing with grief and fear and the unknown can resonate with anyone who has faced a crisis in their own lives.

Who did she write the book for? 

This is a tender story of pain and heartache and of the resulting love and strength that can pull anyone through their own personal challenge or struggle.

Each year, as the anniversary of the shooting rolled around, Marie would receive requests to speak before groups about her experiences and her recovery. In the preface to the book she wrote,

“For the first time, I understood that the hunger of those interested in hearing my story was not really about me at all – it was about the experience of loss or pain or struggle or mystery in the lives of my listeners. Their lives were also filled with sudden storms and dark places. What they were searching for within my story was the secret to navigating through their own darkness…I’d been given a precious gift in my darkest moment. I could not keep it to myself.”

This book describes how good can still come out of a very tragic event in our lives. It’s a very uplifting book.

You can order or read more about this book here:

One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting

(Read more about this and other books related to the Amish school shooting.)