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.
“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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Penance Finally And Thankfully Meets With Peace
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.
- Kumputer Mekanik