Book club fans of 'American Dirt' may not be aware of the author's earlier work, 'A Rip in Heaven' but a Den fan selected this book as part of our "Your Discoveries" feedback page. This book is a non-fiction true crime memoir, based on a personal, traumatic family tragedy, which Cummins wrote in 2004 at the request of her brother.
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A RIP IN HEAVEN
BY JEANINE CUMMINS
Book club fans of 'American Dirt' may not be aware of the author's earlier work, 'A Rip in Heaven' but a Den fan selected this book as part of our "Your Discoveries" feedback page. This book is a non-fiction true crime memoir, based on a personal, traumatic family tragedy, which Jeanine Cummins wrote in 2004 at the request of her brother. A powerful and crushing account of the family's personal suffering following their heart-breaking ordeal.
In April 1991, when Cummins was 16, her brother Tom and her two cousins, Julie and Robin Kelly were brutally attacked on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St Louis Missouri before being thrown into the Mississippi river by their four attackers. Tom survived but the cousins didn’t and Robin's body has never been recovered. It was spring break and had been the cousins last night together before Tom and his two sisters were to return back home to Washington DC. Julie was a budding poet and wanted to show Tom one of her poems which she had graffitied onto the bridge.
Cummins writes in the third person about herself, using her family nickname - Tink. The aim of the memoir is to tell the story from the perspective of the victims and their families’ point of view, especially as in this case, the police force’s initial misjudgement was uncompromisingly flawed and later the press coverage of the case focused on the murderers rather than the victims, giving them an elevated status. Cummins didn’t want her cousins to be forgotten or what happened to their family to be overlooked and fade into insignificance.
It is clear that when Cummins writes this story that she feels a sense of responsibility to ensure she doesn’t let relatives down. By doing so, she does seem to over-justify some of the less sensible decisions they made, but it is a remarkably honest and compelling piece of writing which stays with you long after you have finished reading it and there is no doubt you have a greater understanding for the victims of this horrific and unexpected crime which affected this perfectly normal happy family. It is a fitting tribute and a great legacy to both cousins who so traumatically lost their young lives. This true crime memoir is thought provoking, gripping and an eloquent homage to her cousins, brother and the rest of her family.