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Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  307 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
After the agony of witnessing her mother's multiple--and ultimately successful--suicide attempts, Linda Gray Sexton, daughter of the acclaimed poet Anne Sexton, struggles with an engulfing undertow of depression. Here, with powerful, unsparing prose, Sexton conveys her urgent need to escape the legacy of suicide that consumed her family--a topic rarely explored, even today ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published January 10th 2011 by Counterpoint LLC (first published September 14th 2010)
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Victoria Costello
May 24, 2011 Victoria Costello rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
From my review on Psychology

As someone who's battled life-long major depression, I thought I knew enough about the depths of despair to which this illness can send you. And then I read Linda Sexton's painfully explicit, at times claustrophobic, yet surefooted and ultimately redemptive memoir Half in Love, Surviving the Legacy of Suicide. When I put down Sexton's book, I had a profound new understanding of the extent to which unipolar depression, my diagnosis, is the milder second cousi
Aug 22, 2011 Doreen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: elle
I have pretty complicated reactions to this book, and so I'm going to do something new for me: I'm going to review the book before rating it, in hopes I can come to a better understanding of why it will earn what I eventually rate it. I suppose that that, in itself, is a compliment: this memoir does provoke thought, and Ms Sexton addresses a complicated issue with courage and forthrightness. But for me, that wasn't enough. Sexton doesn't seem to acknowledge that she's an incredibly needy person, ...more
K2 -----
Feb 21, 2011 K2 ----- rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Linda Gray Sexton's ability to write a compelling book about mental illness was just short of amazing. She is a talent, and her ability to create an intimacy with her readers is remarkable.

Readers are given a ring-side seat to not only her ongoing grief of her mother's profound mental illness and how this affected her as a child but how she found herself duplicating much of the same chaos in the lives of her own offspring. Do not under estimate how abandonment can touch one's later life, she pr
Dec 31, 2013 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mental, suicide
jesus christ. the seriousness of the subject matter does not give you license to write lines like "I was ready to play music on the keyboard of my wrist" while simultaneously trying to give the strong impression that you Are A Serious Writer. comically stupid and vacuous.
Dec 15, 2011 Fran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life is precious so why would someone want to end committing an act of murder/suicide and take his or her own life? Some people cannot deal with rejection others with the loss of a parent. Many have illnesses that cause them to feel depressed, sad, despondent and alone. Others take pills; inflict bodily injuries and harm in order to end what they feel is insurmountable suffering caused by others, themselves or mental illness. Anne Sexton died because she wanted to. Anne was the mother of two chi ...more
Donna McBroom-Theriot
My mother would not allow me to date when I wanted to. My father would not let me drive the car. We all have the same thoughts; I am not going to be my mother or my father. I am going to be a better parent. But, what do you do when your mother is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and the legacy she leaves behind is one of suicide? You do what any mother would do, you promise to be a better parent and a better person.

But, what happens when your good intentions are derailed by bi-polarism and alcoholi
Feb 27, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Whoa. This memoir is extremely dark, extremely depressing. About midway through I developed an acute sense of anxiety and even paranoia. I’m not sure if it’s a tribute to the writer’s style or a testimony to the bleakness of the book. This is written by the daughter of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Anne Sexton. I mistakenly assumed it was a tale of growing up with a severely depressed mother who attempted suicide numerous times before succeeding (I guess her first memoir tackles this). While that’ ...more
Jul 05, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite sure how to rate this. Can't say I "liked" it. The topic is not one to like, the writing could have used a good amount of editing, and the author was self-indulgent. But it was a useful look at the author's experience of her mother's suicide and her own attempts. I disagree with some of her deterministic beliefs regarding the legacy of suicide but found the descriptions of suicidal thought processes helpful.
Casey Kiser
Aug 24, 2015 Casey Kiser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extremely intimate look into the childhood and adulthood of Anne Sexton's youngest daughter. Everything you ever wanted to know about Anne and everything you didn't. A very gripping memoir, i couldn't put it down. Ms. Sexton was one complicated lady.
Jan 11, 2017 Mariana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the chilling memoir Half in Love, by Linda Gray Sexton, she gives us an in-depth look at what it's like to overcome the legacy of suicide. Sexton creates a book filled with love for other yet hate for oneself. She brings hope to a world where suicide and depression are deeply misunderstood.

Sexton shows a clear understanding of what it's like to endeavor the pain of wanting to take one's own life. Half in Love is a profoundly personal look at the fear that haunts many families. The fear that
Meg Tuite
Feb 16, 2017 Meg Tuite rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinated by what is now proved to be a legacy of suicidal tendencies in families.
Jan 29, 2011 Zoë rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Depression is a country with no borders."

Linda Gray Sexton grew up with a mother- Pulitzer prize winning poet, Anne Sexton- who repeatedly tried to kill herself, shuffling her two daughters off to various relatives when she hospitalized. Eventually, Anne succeeded, leaving behind a legacy which would severely impact the life of her daughter, a fact discussed in Linda Gray Sexton's second memoir, Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide. After experiencing firsthand the agony of loosing a
Rebecca Catlett
Nov 15, 2011 Rebecca Catlett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Linda Gray Sexton tells her story of how she finally overcame the suicide legacy that ran in her family. She starts by telling when she started to feel the effects of depression and her attempted suicide. From the beginning of the book you are immediately sad for her. It is very deeply emotional, raw, and profoundly honest. Her famous mother, poet Anne Sexton, attempted suicide numerous times throughout Linda’s childhood. Linda writes about how she and her sister Joy dealt with their mother’s il ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
I've unfortunately had to watch some very close people to me struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. It's incredibly scary and something that I wish that they never had to go through. These things are not only hard for those going through depression or fighting suicidal thoughts; it's also difficult for the loved ones surrounding that person who only wish they could help or change things for the people that they loved. From personal experience, you feel incredibly lost.

Depression and sui
Feb 02, 2011 Bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide is Linda Gray Sexton's heartfelt and emotional memoir.
Her mother was famous poet Anne Sexton. Linda is a successful writer herself and the prose in her memoir is achingly beautiful.
Linda's mother Anne suffered from severe depression and as a child she was witness to her mother's mental illness. Linda was twenty one years old in 1974 when her mother committed suicide, after several attempts.
She loved her mother greatly, but Linda swore that she would
Feb 17, 2011 pri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
i'm not quite sure i stopped talking about this book for weeks. Linda's account of her own depression and picking up the legacy of her mother while, at every moment being conscious of what that meant she was doing to her family and her children (having been the child of a depressed and suicidal mother) was very moving. not self pitying or overly involved. just very plainly telling the truth about what depression is and how it can overtake you - past what you promises you make and what you know i ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Serena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Linda Gray Sexton, an author of memoir and fiction, tackles the issues of depression, suicide, and family legacies in her latest memoir, Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide. In case you haven’t deduced on your own who her famous mother is, it is Anne Sexton one of the greatest American confessional poets, who successfully committed suicide in October 1974 after battling depression for years by locking herself in the garage and dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

“The other families in
Christine Fay
Feb 03, 2015 Christine Fay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne Sexton, a contemporary poet of Sylvia Plath, took her own life and left a legacy of suicide for her daughter, Linda. Linda writes with poignancy and grace about the hole left in her life after her mother’s repeated attempts at suicide, and then her final successful attempt while Anne was away at college. Linda has a poetical writing style of her own and tells a great, empathetic, heartfelt story about her own difficulties and challenges with her husband and later divorce and remarriage, and ...more
Nov 09, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just like her mother before her (the Pulitzer prize winning poet Anne Sexton), Linda Gray Sexton's work explores her deeply personal pain. Linda's memoir tenderly describes what it was like to grow up in the midst of her mother's depression. Her mother's story ends when she ends her own life. However, as she deals with the aftermath of her mother suicide, Linda's struggle with mental illness only then takes root. Despite Linda's best efforts to rage against her mother's legacy and lose her pain ...more
Apr 13, 2013 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intricately woven tale of the crippling effects experienced by those suffering from severe mental illness. Despite the bleak depths of depression and the temptation to end one's life and, as assumed to be intertwined, one's profound emotional distress, we find the overlooked connection which can bind us to a healthy fate: "Love might not ensure that I would stay well, but love could help me through the darkness." Linda Gray Sexton has indeed achieved a marvelous feat, not only in transcending ...more
This was a really insightful, well-written memoir by the daughter of Anne Sexton. She really explains how depression, manic periods, and suicidal thoughts can run one's life, and how they feel. The last book that really illustrated with words what depression is like was Elizabeth Wurtzel's "Prozac Nation". I commend Linda Gray Sexton on this momentous work, in which she weaves her own and her mother's lifetimes together, and then carefully pulls the strands apart so that Linda can live her own l ...more
Esther Bradley-detally
I've always cared about Linda Gray Sexton's well being. She's just written a fine and fascinating memoir, and gives insights into the inner world of a bi-polar condition. If you read this book, i suspect you'll never think it is self-indulgent to commit suicide or any other perjorative judgment about it. I like her writing very much, admire her courage. I grew up in Boston area; read Anne Sexton's poems one summer and went into "huge" depression. Her life has been transformed by courage, a good ...more
Dec 13, 2012 Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have great respect for the author and her choice to tackle such a difficult, painful, and highly personal autobiography. The topic of suicide is such a taboo one, and so often misunderstood. With a history of suicide in her family (including that of her famous mother, Anne Sexton), the author reveals her own experiences with suicidal tendencies and attempts. The depiction is powerful, often painful, and yet sheds a very important light on the underlying factors. I highly recommend this book.
Jan 09, 2011 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me. It drove me crazy for the first 3/4ths or so, but then, miraculously, I was so impressed by her ability to write so clearly about how her life was as someone with BDP (without a diagnosis or good care). As well as her ability to write - without detail as to how she made certain changes - how she has been able to accept alternate views on why things happened as they did in her life and make peace with them, that I ultimately felt like something was missing from my life aft ...more
Jan 24, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From my book review blog Rundpinne...."Half in Love is a beautiful, tender, and deeply emotional look into a world many fear or are uncomfortable talking about. Sexton wants to dispel myths and teach the readers about these taboo topics."....My full may be read here.
May 11, 2015 Marsmannix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, psychology
I picked this up after reading Bespotted, the 3rd memoir of writer Linda Gray Sexton.

It is a graphic depiction of the interior life of mental illness. It is not candy coated. I appreciated her exploration of how her illness ruptured family relations and what it took to journey back to the hearts of her loved ones.

Read it in 2 days, could't put it down. Disclaimer: i have a legacy of suicide and mental illness in my family.
Mar 15, 2012 Allison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I think parts of this book should probably be required reading for anyone who has ever thought of suicide as a selfish act. Linda Sexton makes a pretty good case for the fact that she could no more avoid inheriting suicidal depression from her mother than she could avoid having the gene for breast cancer.
Terry Cottiers
Jul 13, 2011 Terry Cottiers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Subtitled "Surviving the Legacy of Suicide", the story of Anne Sexton's suicide, her daughter's long ordeal with her mom's attempts and her gradual descent into her own suicide attempts. She struggles between wanting to end her own pain, which is considerable and unendurable at times, but is very aware of the suffering of her family at the same time.
May 13, 2011 Gina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really could hardly get through this book. I have no idea what the true purpose of this writing was whiny and obnoxious at times, making me think twice about how much I respected Sexton to begin with. I don't say this lightly. It skipped around, was poorly organized and made me feel immensely petty for even continuing onward to the end.
Oct 03, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is subtitled "Surviving the Legacy of Suicide" so of course it is a story of complete desolation, it is also luminous and beautifully written throughout. I got so caught up in this book I felt as though the author was speaking directly to me. Linda Gray Sexton is an amazing writer, I'm looking forward to reading more by her.
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Linda Gray Sexton was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1953. As the daughter of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Anne Sexton, she grew up in a home filled with books and words and an attention to language, and at an early age she, too, began to write. Afternoons were sometimes spent together with her mother, reading aloud from Anne’s favorite poems.

By the time Linda was an adolescent, she had beg
More about Linda Gray Sexton...

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