I received a free physical copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
This shit is bananas. Grade A bananas. I'm from Minnesota - Rosemount to be exact, which is in the same school district as Eagan, Apple Valley, and Lakeville, so it was kind of weird as I read this and knew these places so well. I've also spent more than my fair share of time in Farmington and Hastings. Thank God I don't know anyone involved in this - especially the crazy mom who seems to have developed a severe personality disorder over night and also has a weird cadre of minions who harass anyone who calls her out on her crazy.
And really, it's not just the disappearance of the girls that is crazy, but the whole show, the entire thing from start to finish - including the weird performance art that the mom's lawyer put on by also being a complete lunatic. At least, I would hope it was some kind of performance art because as an attorney she sucked. Fun fact about this nutjob: she ran for a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court and lost, thank goodness. Not long after that she was sentenced to electronic monitoring and probation for a DWI. I don't know what happened since then, but she is as bananas as her client, so I guess it all makes sense in the end.
The Girls are Gone tells the story of the Rucki family. David Rucki and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki had five children together and one day what seems to be out of the blue, Sandra wants to divorce. David agrees to it and is ultimately tricked into signing papers that actually left with the entirety of their combined debt, and literally nothing else. It speaks to how completely nuts this all is - why would he have trusted his soon-to-be-ex-wife and signed the documents if there was any history of any kind of crazy-ass nonsense on her part? If the family as a whole, or at least David and Sandra, had been dealing with her having some kind of personality disorder or mental illness, I highly doubt he would have just up and signed his name without reading. He trusted her. I am intrigued by this aspect specifically, because you can't just hide a mental illness in a 20-year marriage, so what happened to suddenly cause Sandra to do a complete about-face? Unfortunately, given the fact that she is psychotic, we will probably never get the truth - on any of this, actually. That is always the big question for me - why the fuck put your kids through that? And not just Samantha and Gianni, but the three left behind? Brainwashing all your kids into thinking their dad has molested them, that he is a horrible person, all of it. WHY? WHY? WHY? Just to hurt him? Again then, WHY? You fucked up your kids for life, though with good therapy they will likely be able to adjust. But seriously, WHY?
In the midst of all the chaos seven years ago, Samantha and Gianna Rucki vanished without a trace on night, just gone. We see their father working constantly with law enforcement, trying to do all he can to bring the girls home while also caring for the three remaining siblings. Their mother, on the other hand, just makes a big spectacle of her elfish ass by jetting off on random vacations and gambling in Vegas constantly, all despite being "broke". Sandra claims she wants what is best for her kids and that she is looking out for them. Yet when she had custody, the house became a hovel of filth and there's clearly not a whole lot of care going on. That custody is lost due to her literally self-sabotaging her own case, almost willfully ignorant of the fact that she can't just do whatever she wants and expect things to go her way. When she does inevitably lose custody, that is when she and one of her weirdo friends kidnap the girls and then promptly deposit them with total strangers for two and a half years. All the while David is still fighting the court system and the false charges leveled at him by his ex-wife. In the initial divorce decree Sandra said nothing about any abuse toward her or the kids. It was only after the initial decree was dismissed because of Cray-Cray's LYING to get David to sign papers in the first place that she starts shouting about him abusing her and molesting the kids. She claims there are photographs with many reports filed with the Lakeville Police Department. Want to know something really interesting though? LPD has ZERO reports and big surprise, Sandra is lying again. I can not imagine the emotional toll this took on David Rucki, who we actually do not hear from a whole lot throughout the book. While he is not a perfect parent, that does not exist, he comes across as the only parent in the situation who ACTUALLY cares about the well-being of the children.
Eventually the girls are found and returned home, but their experience is going to take years of therapy to undo. I looked up some information on this whole situation to kind of see where everything is at now. I highly recommend checking out the website that contains tons of addition information about the case, Missing in Minnesota. It is, you guessed it, BANANAS that this crazy-ass is still lying.
The book itself is written by those who know the case well and were involved. Michael Brodkorb is a journalist who covered the story, who has since been targeted by Sandra and her supporters with charges of harassment and other nonsense. You probably won't be surprised to know that her minions continue to harass and spout off about the case, when they don't actually know all that much about it. These supporters claim they want to overhaul the family court system because it is unfair, yet they willingly only believe whatever Sandra has told them about her case and haven't actually looked at reports and court transcripts. Luckily, the co-author is Allison Mann, who worked for David's attorney. Transcripts are included almost ad naseum, but I appreciate the technical details so those did not bother me as much as they appeared to bother other readers.
This is a must-read for true crime fans because just when you think the case can't get any more confusing or fucked up, a whole new level of insanity is unlocked.