Among the flowers and plants in Marie Monville's sunny yard sits a rosebush, a gift from her first husband, Charlie.
A few years ago, Monville painstakingly unearthed the roots and transplanted the bush from her old house 10 miles away --- a house that Charlie had thrown into tumult and grief.
The bush's prickles recall the pain she and her family have endured, Monville said, and its peach-colored blossoms offer a yearly reminder that God creates new life from old.
After years of silence, Monville is now telling her own story.
It's the story of how a milkman's daughter became a murderer's wife, and how she found a divine calling after a devastating tragedy.
"If this wasn't my life," Monville said during a recent interview in her kitchen, family pictures smiling from the fridge, "I never would have expected it to look this beautiful."
On Oct. 2, 2006, Charlie Roberts -- then Monville's husband -- burst into a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, with a handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun, a rifle, cans of black powder, a stun gun, two knives, a toolbox and restraint devices.
Roberts ordered a teacher, a teacher's aide and the boys to leave, then bound 10 young schoolgirls and lined them up against the blackboard.
He boarded the windows, apparently preparing for a long siege, but as police surrounded the schoolhouse, Roberts shot all 10 girls before killing himself. Five girls died; the others were severely wounded.
The gentle, quiet man who had shared Monville's bed, children and life was now a mass murderer, guilty of unfathomable evil.
In mere hours, Monville lost her husband, and her children lost their father. Her close-knit community was terrorized and her family's name disgraced. Her innocence was despoiled and her evangelical faith tested.
"I felt deserted, left behind to bear the weight of the world's judgment and questions alone," Monville writes in "One Light Still Shines," her new book about the shooting and its aftermath, "and I felt that weight pressing me down."
Stepping out of the shadows
After the shooting, Monville tried to keep her family, especially her three young children, out of the public eye.
But with the release of "One Light," which goes on sale Monday, Monville is stepping out of the shadows, sharing her story in deeply personal detail.
Zondervan, one of the country's largest Christian publishing houses, won't say how many copies it plans to print. But it has launched a "robust" marketing and publicity campaign, with a billboard in New York's Times Square and interviews with TV networks.
"It will sell millions of copies," said Donald Kraybill, co-author of "The Amish" and a professor at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "Millions."
Not only is Monville's story powerful and largely untold, but it also hits a burgeoning market for book publishers, Kraybill said: the cross-section of evangelical spirituality and interest in all things Amish.
Christian fiction best-seller lists brim with Amish romance novels, largely because of their large evangelical readership, which scholars trace to the 2006 shooting and its stunning postlude of Amish forgiveness.
Monville said she kept silent for so long because that story, the grace and compassion the Amish offered her family, was already making headlines around the world.
"There wasn't much more for me to say," she said.
Even if there had been more to say, the intensely private Monville was reluctant to speak publicly. Shy and quiet, she sometimes joked that the label under her high-school yearbook picture should have read, "Most Likely to be Forgotten."
But as the shooting's psychological wounds began to heal, Monville said she heard God calling her to a new mission: to share her message of hope. To tell others that, even after Charlie's crushing actions, her family not only survived, they thrived.
"I now saw a grand purpose in telling my story," Monville writes. "I wasn't afraid anymore."
Walking on water