D is for Darin Strauss, Half A Life

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Half a LifeFinished 3-30-13, rating 3/5, memoir, 207 pages, pub. 2010

Half my life ago, I killed a girl.

(first line)

When Darin was 18 years old he was driving his friends around and he hit a girl who was riding a bike.  The girl went to his high school.  How does Darin go on and live his life?  What about the family of the victim?  What is the price to be paid for taking a life, intended or not?  I can’t even imagine the horror and the aftermath.  How do you pick up the pieces and move on?  That’s why I wanted to read this memoir.

I’m of two minds on this one.  I wanted to like it more than I did.  I wanted feel more for Darin than I did. But, to quote Darin, “I’m not sure I can get across just how much I want to be extra generous to Celine here.  Extra-generous and, you’ve probably noticed, extra-writerly.  It’s a coward’s tactic.  I’m trying to write all the difficulty away.” (p. 58)  For me, there was too much writing and not enough depth.  The accident was not his fault, but this memoir needs to convince the reader of this fact.   It felt more like catharsis for Darin.  He mentioned more than once in the book that he was putting on a show for people, doing what he thought they expected to see and that’s how I felt about the book.  It felt less like a serious evaluation of what happened and what it did to his life than a book to absolve him of guilt.

On the other hand, there were insightful passages like this one, “Through all this, there was the courthouse threat of financial devastation-a thief taking up onious position outside every job, every apartment, rubbing his hands together.  Everything could at any moment be taken away because of the Zilkes, snatched from under me, desks pulled from my fingers.  Her parents had found a very real way, I realized, to keep Celine with me forever. (p.103) Extra-writerly or not I would have welcomed more passages like this.

Having never gone through anything remotely close to this I feel bad for my complaints.  Ignore everything I just said.

This was from my own library.

7 thoughts on “D is for Darin Strauss, Half A Life

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