So begins Darin Strauss' Half a Life, the true story of how one outing in his father's Oldsmobile resulted in the death of a classmate and the beginning of a different, darker life for the author. We follow Strauss as he explores his startling past-collision life - the funeral, the queasy drama of a high-stakes court case? and what starts as a personal tale of a tragic event opens into the story of how to live with a very hard fact: we can try our human best in the crucial moment, and it might not be good enough. Half a Life is a nakedly honest, ultimately hopeful examination of guilt, responsibility, and living with the past.
Half a Life has a larger significance than simply rehashing a sad event in the past; in fact, it's one of those rare books that I would recommend to almost any reader. We all have to find ways to cope with loss and much of this adjustment is hidden from our everyday routine and acquaintances. Though Strauss's memoir has a painful premise, I found it a surprising comfort to understand another person's response to tragedy, especially when I noticed that the author's most private thoughts, though they were almost shocking in their honesty, weren't all that different from my own inner dialogue regarding my own losses and difficulties. Readers will see past the painful circumstances to the beauty of a man who has spent half his life making decisions and living his life in light of very difficult truth. (Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
So few of our days contain actions that are irrevocable,' Strauss notes. 'Our lives are designed not to allow for anything irrevocable.' His story is a stark reminder of what happens at those blessedly rare moments. Its unbridled honesty in confronting tragedy offers both insight and inspiration.
New York Times Book Review - Dani Shapiro
At the center of this elegant, painful, stunningly honest memoir thrums a question fundamental to what it means to be human: What do we do with what we’ve been given?… What is truly exceptional here is watching a writer of fine fiction probe, directly, carefully and with great humility, the source from which his fiction springs.
San Francisco Chronicle
With honesty and sensitivity, Strauss looks not only at how that fateful incident decades ago ended Celine's young life, but also at how it greatly affected his. Out of undoubtedly complicated circumstances, he crafts a simple yet remarkable story about pain and guilt, maturity and responsibility, hope and understanding.
O, The Oprah Magazine
A remarkable, beyond-brave memoir that offers an intensely personal look at the most agonizing events in the author's post-accident life… With astounding frequency, Strauss pinpoints truths that most of us would find indescribable.
I recently went on a trip with a couple of friends, one of whom brought along Half a Life. The book's slender enough that the three of us devoured it in three days—and beautifully written enough that we spent the rest of the trip discussing it.… Grade: A
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love Half a Life is an unusually honest, thoughtful and unsettling memoir, which readers and critics are destined to call 'brave'—for it is brave. But the book is more than simply brave, it is a searingly self-disciplined work of literature, and of self-examination. Darin Strauss does not permit himself even one sentence, even one moment, of lazy thinking, or mitigating excuses. He examines with rigorous honesty every moment of the most awful and tragic event of his life. After all that admirable work and all that attentive detail, when he does finally reach a place of cautious hope, the impact is staggering and unforgettable.
David Lipsky, author of Absolutely American and Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself
Darin Strauss' Half a Life is the best anything I've read—novel, memoir, story—in a very long time. Incredibly, it's also the most moving. (And inspiring, and challenging; it's a book that asks you to live up to it.) This book has the greatest weight-to-power ratio I've ever seen. Read it, be swallowed, come out changed. If you've faced a death, of course you should read it. But everyone faces a life, and so the rest of us should read it too.
Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place and Lift
I've read so many memoirs. Darin Strauss' is more honest and useful than all of them rolled together, including my own. This might be the bravest book you will ever read.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by thewanderingjew Half A Life, Darin Strauss When I turned to the last page of this profound little book, I simply sat quietly and thought about how awful it must be to carry guilt with you, like a shadow, for most of your life, for something you probably had little or no control over and are... Read More
Risks on the Road
According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration's (NHSTA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System, of the 34,172 fatal automobile crashes in 2008, 718, about 2%, were cyclists like Celine Zilke. A much higher number of fatalities, 4,414, were pedestrians. Trend data between 1994 and 2008 shows a slightly decreasing number of non-motorist fatalities in Celine and Darin's age range, but deaths of older non-motorists, particularly between ages 45 and 54 have significantly increased.
Though automobile accidents in general are the number one cause of death for Americans between the ages of 3 and 34, the NHSTA 2009 report recorded vehicle-related fatalities at their lowest level since 1950. The number of people hurt in vehicle crashes also declined in 2009.
The term "survivor's guilt" has popped up frequently in the media recently in the context of the recession and numerous job losses. Management and surviving employees are encouraged to find ways to overcome guilt and...
In April 2002, Janine Latus's youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved, it read, but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead...
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Oldest romance writer in the world dies aged 105. Books #124 and #125 to be published next year(Dec 10 2013) Ida Pollock, author of more than 120 books, and believed to be the world's oldest romantic novelist, has died at the age of 105.