Johanna's Reviews > Half a Life

Half a Life by Darin Strauss
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Apr 09, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: autobiography
Read in April, 2011

Half a Life is Darin Strauss' memoir about his involvement in a no fault accident that killed his classmate Celine Zilke when he was eighteen. The book is very short (191 pages) and jumps right in on the first page to the accident (first line: "Half my life ago, I killed a girl").

Strauss writes with such careful clarity and honesty that it is impossible not to go back to your 18-year-old self and wonder what you would have felt and how you would have reacted in his situation. I felt deep sympathy for Strauss' teenage self floundering to make sense of society's expectations around grieving, his shock and depression (mainly in the form of numbness), and his desire to appear to do the right thing in front of his peers.

I love a memoir with a moral, and Strauss delivers what he semi-jokingly refers to as an "epiphany." He says, "We're all pretty much able to deal even with the worst that life can fire at us, if we simply admit that it is very difficult."

This is a book ideal for book clubs. Already, reading the reviews of others, some are painting Strauss as a self-involved whiner. I did not see him this way at all. I thought he was a very brave, young man put in a horrific situation without the skills to navigate it. Indeed, I don't know of any eighteen year old who would have been able to handle this even half as well.

This book is deeply personal and honest. A great read.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Half a Life.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.