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
“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.
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.
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.
The social mine field of the school reunion ten years on was brilliantly portrayed.
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.
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
No thanks - he has a way of ruining your day
Don't waste your time unless you like to wallow in misery
It was very difficult to follow the story with the plain, flat voice
Every time I tried to listen to the story I had to change to other, could not stand long time.
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.
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.
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.
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