Rosemarie's Reviews > Half a Life: A Memoir

Half a Life by Darin Strauss
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Feb 10, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: reviewed
Read in April, 2011

My reaction to this book was so visceral that I hardly know how to review it.

On a beautiful weekend morning in May, shortly before his graduation from high school, Darin Strauss accidentally struck and killed a schoolmate whose bike inexplicably veered in front of his car.

As with a massive earthquake, the axis of his world has shifted forever in ways he can hardly comprehend. Attempts to fully grasp the enormity of the event fail, as his bruised mind keeps slipping around and away from the event. He sleeps soundly through the night as Celine lies dying in the hospital.

At the funeral, he describes the confusion of watching himself showing (feeling?) the `proper' degree of regret and remorse; the watching self is numb and terrified. His promise to Celine's mother that he will "live for two" is hardly necessary; he will carry this conflicted burden of remorse, guilt, and disconnection for many years.

Every event of his life is measured against it; in every new relationship he wonders if he should share the story. Eventually he finds that "even the truth feels like a lie," and his disgust with himself causes health problems unusual in a young man.

This slim book begs to be a group discussion topic for mature readers. It is an important book. No few people live with scars from significant trauma; and this author gives voice to their inarticulate anguish in unsparing, haunting, and occasionally shameful detail.
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