December 2, 2019

Book Review – The Triumph of Rosemary

The Triumph of Rosemary is a thoughtful reflection on a life that could have easily been overcome by adversity, and the tenacity of a woman unwilling to be deterred by circumstance or societal expectations. The book chronicles the maturation and life-long journey of Judge Marylin E. Atkins. Born to biracial parents in 1946 Detroit, baby Rosemary (her given name) was rejected by her Italian great-grandmother and subsequently adopted by a young black couple from Saginaw, Michigan. With an insatiable desire to succeed fueled by her abusive mother and an unwavering drive to help others inspired by her loving father, Judge Atkins takes the reader from her childhood in Saginaw through the tense, combustible relationship between mother and daughter that spanned a lifetime, to her retirement as Chief Judge of the 36th District Court. By weaving together the narrative plot, contemporaneous internal dialogue, and present-time reflection, the reader is taken on a fascinating journey that deftly tackles issues of adoption, abuse, race, and religion.

Many will likely be drawn to this book to learn the professional hurdles Judge Atkins overcame to become the longest serving Chief Judge of Detroit’s 36th District Court. And Judge Atkins does recount in fascinating detail the trials and tribulations of her numerous professional accolades. But Judge Atkins does not ground her success solely on her hard work and perseverance. She is careful to remind the reader that the kindness of family, friends, and strangers also made her dreams possible, whether it be the kindness of a work acquaintance who loaned her the funds she needed to study for the bar exam full time or her husband’s unwavering love and support through 24 years of marriage. The book serves as a hopeful reminder that no one succeeds alone.

Though the book contains invaluable insight into the tenacity, fearlessness, and industriousness needed to rise to the top of the legal field, it also contains invaluable life lessons of general applicability. As inspiring as her professional achievements is the life Judge Atkins built with her husband, Thomas Atkins, and their two children, Elizabeth and Catherine—a life that many thought impossible due to the fact that Thomas was 25 years older, white, and a former Roman Catholic priest. The book is grounded by the quiet moments Judge Atkins recalls with her husband and children. Time and again the reader is reminded that the key to happiness and fulfillment is not found in satisfying the expectations of others. Instead, the key is to follow your heart, walk your own path, and not let the opinions of others drown out your happiness.

Ashley E. RacetteAshley-Racette-Professionals-Kerr-Russell maintains a general litigation practice, with an emphasis on complex business litigation and probate litigation. She is experienced in matters relating to trust administration and estate administration. Ashley is a graduate of MSU College of Law.

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