Back of the book: It was a dark day in America’s history – December 1, 1997. Freshman Michael Carneal walked into the Heath High School lobby in West Paducah, Kentucky, and started shooting, killing three students and injuring five.
One of those injured students was 15-year-old Missy Jenkins, who was left paralyzed from the chest down.
But Missy never saw her disability as an end. Just hours after the tragedy, she forgave Carneal and took back her life. In the next decade she would graduate from college, become a counselor for troubled youth, get married, have a baby, and confront Carneal face to face about his actions that tragic day. She would earn countless local and national honors over the years from “Kentuckian of the Year” to one of Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Most Fascinating Women”.
This is a story of love, forgiveness, courage, and determination – one that will leave people of all ages inspired to make the most of each day and never take life for granted.
I received this book from the publisher last week. I decided to start reading it this morning and found I couldn’t put it down. I can’t remember the last time I read such an inspirational book. It addresses (but doesn’t dwell on) the shooting – rather what came after.
Missy Jenkins could have seen life as pretty much over on Dec. 1, 1997. She was 15 and paralyzed. Within hours of the life-changing injury she forgave the shooter. Forgiveness is the theme of the book and really it seems to be the theme of Missy’s life. I was in awe of so much maturity in such a young person. I found myself wondering if I could have forgiven such a terrible act. Maybe in time, but hours after the crime? I’m not so sure. The book is not preachy but she does explain how her faith laid the foundation for how she lives her life.
She wrote: “…I forgave him, and my future was enlarged. It helped me discover a Missy Jenkins I never knew existed. Had I not forgiven him, I’d still be bitter today and probably never would have done any of the things I’ve done to help myself and other people. I would have had no desire to. I wouldn’t have the mental strength to do it.” That is what I’ll take away from reading I Choose to be Happy.
Thank you Missy Jenkins and William Croyle for a wonderful book. Thank you Langmarc Publishing for sending the book.