Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

D is for Darin Strauss, Half A Life

Blogging from A-Z

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.

April 4, 2013 - Posted by | 3 Star Books |


  1. I liked this more than you did but did think parts of the book were stronger than others.

    Comment by BermudaOnion | April 4, 2013 | Reply

    • I did like parts of it, just disappointed with the whole. I think most people liked it more than me.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | April 14, 2013 | Reply

  2. your comparison of the two passages left me feeling like the book had been written by two different people ~ what a horrible thing to happen to both families

    Comment by anovelsource1 | April 4, 2013 | Reply

    • I can’t even imagine going through something so horrible. I shudder to even think of it.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | April 14, 2013 | Reply

  3. I would try to give this one a shot. And you’re right, we’ve never gone through anything like this.

    Comment by Staci@LifeintheThumb | April 6, 2013 | Reply

    • It’s hard to be honestly critical when taking into account the tragedy.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | April 14, 2013 | Reply

  4. I totally know where you are coming at with this one. It felt like it was too internal in some ways.

    Comment by Jenners | April 15, 2013 | Reply

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