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Posted: 2017-05-19 15:34:23

Friday, May 12 would’ve been Emilie Parker’s 11th birthday. The little girl loved art, reading and cheering people up when they were sad. On December 14, 2012, she and 19 other children were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 

More than four years after the horrific tragedy, Emilie’s mother, Alissa Parker, released An Unseen Angel: A Mother’s Story of Healing and Hope After Sandy Hook, a powerful book about finding joy and compassion in unexpected places.

On the eve of Emilie’s birthday, Parker spoke with HuffPost about the book, her family’s journey and the way her outlook changed after she lived through every parent’s worst nightmare. 

Ensign Peak

An Unseen Angel is dedicated to Alissa's two other daughters, Madeline and Samantha.

An Unseen Angel is dedicated to Parker’s two younger daughters, 8-year-old Samantha and 9-year-old Madeline. The author told HuffPost she initially started writing the book just for the two girls.  

“They were very young when Emilie died, and I knew they wouldn’t remember very much,” she said. “I wanted to preserve this story for them so that as years passed, they would be able to go back and see what happened.”

As she wrote about the outpouring of compassion and support from family, friends and strangers after the unspeakable tragedy, Parker realized her story might be able to inspire others. 

“There’s so much negativity and darkness surrounding what happened at Sandy Hook, and this was a whole different perspective,” she explained. “It’s the lighter side, the side that shows how good humanity is. And I just wanted to share that with people.”

Courtesy of Alissa Parker

“There’s so much negativity and darkness surrounding what happened at Sandy Hook, and this was a whole different perspective. It’s the lighter side, the side that shows how good humanity is," Parker told HuffPost.

The title of the book stems from Parker’s belief that her daughter Emilie is an “unseen angel,” always with her as she goes through life

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