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Half a Life: A Memoir | [Darin Strauss]

Half a Life: A Memoir

Acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad's Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death. With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey.
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Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle Award, Autobiography, 2011

In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad's Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death.

With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey - graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father. Along the way, he takes a hard look at loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and, at last, acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.

Look for special features inside, including an interview with Colum McCann.

©2011 Darin Strauss (P)2011 Random House

What the Critics Say

“Elegant, painful, stunningly honest . . . huge [and] heartbreaking.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Darin Strauss has spent a good part of his adult life reliving, regretting and reflecting on a single, split-second incident. Half a Life is a starkly honest account of that fateful moment and his life thereafter . . . penetrating, thought-provoking.”—The Washington Post

“A book that inspires admiration, sentence by sentence . . . This is a memoir in its finest form, a fully imagined and bittersweet book that transcends a single misstep.”—Chicago Tribune

“Painfully raw and beautifully written.”—Los Angeles Times

“A remarkable, beyond-brave memoir.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“Lyrical and haunting.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR AND THE PLAIN DEALER


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (32 )
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  •  
    Philippa Vancouver, BC, Canada 03-08-12
    Philippa Vancouver, BC, Canada 03-08-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Penance Finally And Thankfully Meets With Peace"
    Where does Half a Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Hearing Darin narrate his own story added to the power of his extraordinary emotional honesty. I could hear him trying to tell it just the way it happened, and how his life has been shaped by the one split second incident. It resonates with an urgency to communicate the complete truth in so far as it can be remembered and told.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Half a Life?

    There were so many, but I think that the occasion when Darin goes to visit the parents of the girl he inadvertently killed, has stayed with me and moved me one of the most. Darin was so courageous in his efforts as a young man whose life has been up ended, to try to interpret and follow through with what he felt was the right thing to do, no matter what the personal cost. As he describes the visit of his younger self it is impossible not to feel some of the pain of those present.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The social mine field of the school reunion ten years on was brilliantly portrayed.


    Any additional comments?

    Aside from the power and impact of the events in the book, I found it to be beautifully written. Darin is a writer who I hadn't yet discovered. I was spell bound with his descriptions and the overall quality of writing. I think that while the book may be a step along the path towards his personal healing and journey, it is a gift to the rest of us. I hope to take lessons from it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Albany, NY, United States 12-01-13
    Barbara Albany, NY, United States 12-01-13 Member Since 2005

    Since taking my first creative writing class in 2008 the pleasure I used to get from reading has been greatly reduced. I notice things I never noticed before. That said, I think I rate books pretty generously. Anyone who actually manages to write a whole book and then get it published deserves an extra star.

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    "In the wrong place at the wrong time"

    Eighteen year old Strauss was driving to a game of mini-golf when a girl on a bicycle swerved in front of his car. This book is a thoughtful, respectful, and unsparing reflection on his struggle to shape the rest of his life around that single, horrific event.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john gardner, ma, United States 02-04-13
    john gardner, ma, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Get a Life"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    People that like to live in the past and whine. He killed someone by accident - now he rakes in the dough whinning about it. Sorry I am too busy for your sad life. I would rather have read about the real victim


    Has Half a Life turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Oh Yes


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Darin Strauss?

    No thanks - he has a way of ruining your day


    What character would you cut from Half a Life?

    Darin


    Any additional comments?

    Don't waste your time unless you like to wallow in misery

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MoNicA Mexico 01-08-13
    MoNicA Mexico 01-08-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Terrible narrator"
    What disappointed you about Half a Life?

    It was very difficult to follow the story with the plain, flat voice


    What was most disappointing about Darin Strauss’s story?

    Every time I tried to listen to the story I had to change to other, could not stand long time.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Darin Strauss’s performances?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Parola138 United States 12-26-12
    Parola138 United States 12-26-12 Member Since 2005

    We bite

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    "its brevity works in its favor"

    I have read only a few books like this- which we could call creative non-fiction regarding a death. The other one that comes to mind is "Death be not proud," which is a lot older and about a man who has to witness his young son slowly dying. Then there are fiction versions of books like this, by Richard Ford or more recently "The Fault in Our Stars." This book revolves around a random occurrence as a young girl dies as a result of a collision with the author, the driver of an automobile. Like the other books I've mentioned, I faced the same problem- after a while into the book I found little reason to continue caring. I felt like this would only interest a small audience- of those who lived in this area of America and who were impacted directly by this event. I think a lot of times people feel guilty in disliking someone's naked memoir of such a tragedy. I am not afraid to say that a callous part of me just could not care and I didn't know why I had to walk along with this author through HIS healing process and pay for the experience. With that being said, this is a straight-forward and well-written book. The narration is good. There are a few nuggets of wisdom I did get from the book. I think that other readers might find merit in a book like this. I would not have finished it had it been a 5 hour book. The fact that its 4 hours works in its favor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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