Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Exit: The Endings That Set Us Free” as Want to Read:
Exit: The Endings That Set Us Free
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Exit: The Endings That Set Us Free

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  27 reviews
From a renowned sociologist, the wisdom of saying goodbye

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is enthralled by exits: long farewells, quick goodbyes, sudden endings, the ordinary and the extraordinary. There’s a relationship, she attests, between small goodbyes and our ability “to master and mark the larger farewells.”

In Exit, her tenth book, she explores the ways we leave one thing an
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Sarah Crichton Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Exit, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Exit

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  115 ratings  ·  27 reviews

Sort order
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
I expected to like this book a lot, and I'm disappointed. Part of my problem with it is the subjects themselves, who are all comfortable professional people. True, two are immigrants and two have families of origin in the lower-classes. But three -- three! out of the 11 subjects are very comfortably well-off individuals whose struggle to "exit" means deciding to leave the world of philanthropy. All of the interviewees are fortunately situated in their lives so that they have the luxury of choosi ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Since I'm almost done with grad school, I know that exiting this chapter in my life is important. In our society, we don't celebrate the ending of something. We prefer to celebrate new beginnings which is exciting. Though, exiting something really helps to close something so one is better prepared for a new beginning. The writer shares with us several people who experienced exiting by finding home, finding one's voice, gaining freedom, healing wounds, yearning for something else and finding grac ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Stories = good. Commentary = so so. Worth reading if you're in transition of any sort.
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Parts of this book were incredible potent and expressive of my current transition. A well-executed treatment of a topic which is, in the end, a part of all of our lives at one point or another (and in many ways.)
Nicole Smith
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
The cover of the book drew me in. And it was worth the read, especially at a time in my life when I think change is coming in various aspects of my life.

Passages that resonated with me:

-I am struck, as well, by how these big exit markers--those that are most vivid in my memory--are tinged with sadness, poignancy, a sense of defeat, even thought they all, in the end, led to something better and brighter.
-Are there steps to take, routines to be practiced, discerning questions to be posed to make
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is great for: good examples of portraiture in literature (from a Grandmaster), stories of difficult exits, learning to empathize with those different from us.

I'm a person who has always been able to get up and leave, be it my childhood home, a place I lived for 4 years, or from a relationship that has gone sour. However, I realize in retrospect and with the help of this book that I did not respect my exits as much as I could have. My most recent exit, from the village where I served as
May 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology
Professor Lawrence-Lightfoot uses personal interviews and stories to illustrate how the process of exiting works in different situations, the ceremonial gestures we use to acknowledge leave-taking and to recognize for ourselves that a momentous event is occurring. The stages of "exit" are not discrete-- there is often an iterative process in how we decide to leave and when we leave, the emotions that are attached with this process and the actions we take to recognize that we are about to end som ...more
AdultNonFiction Teton County Library
TCL call number: 390 Lawrence S

Cindy's rating: 4 stars
I was scanning the new book shelf recently, and the title of this book intrigued me. It certainly is a unique perspective, looking at the various departures we make throughout our lives. Whether it's something large like leaving a job you've held for years to saying goodbye to a friend after lunch, we've all left something. I've often felt unsettled at times of transition, when I've made a decision to move on from something. Those awkward goo
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I didn't find this as inspiring and deep as some of Lawrence-Lightfoot's other work (like the one about parent-teacher conferences that was so poignant and painful and true that I couldn't finish reading). As always, she narrates her interviewees' stories in a way that's nuanced and compelling and brings the characters to life. But this time, each narration was followed by an analysis by Lawrence-Lightfoot that was more repetitive than analytical, and I mostly skipped those.

The book did inspire
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the content of the anecdotal sections, which were selected welland told very unique and interesting accounts of exits throughout life. I was never quite sure why Lightfoot provided summaries at the end of each anecdote -- in addition to the intro. I almost wished that this space was filled more stories of exit and the lines of similarity/ relation were saved for the final chapter. Enjoyable read that I am certain many readers will be able to relate to at many point in their live ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is outstanding. The author is a highly acclaimed sociologist and a professor (Harvard) who intelligently discusses the transitions we all experience in life, whether related to work, home, relationships, and even the ultimate transition we all will take when we die. I'm now eager to read her other book about the 50-75 year age period in which many of us will embark on something altogether different. Read Exit, and take notes!
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Loosely related stories about people working themselves out of difficult life circumstances. I didn't get a chance that these individuals made particular life choices about ending or leaving something behind. And I didn't really fully understand the premise that an exit was somehow different from a turning point or a new beginning.
Jenina Mella
Oct 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was looking to this book to help me understand this complex topic. Short of restating that we live in a culture which likes to celebrate beginnings, but ignores endings, I was disappointed in the thinness of the stories. The analysis in between was tiresome and pedantic. I really admire this author and love her interviews, but this book really missed the mark.
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dense. A beautiful and cohesive telling from diverse situations of the Exits, mostly chosen, and the fruits of those labored. I read this after undertaking my encore career and would have considered it a manual for making that transition gracefully and with celebrated meaning.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is very inspiring and comforting. Through portraits of unique and powerful individuals, Lawrence-Lightfoot casts exits as positive paths in life. When you exit a place or an option in your life, you also open multiple doors.
Ruth Gibian
Feb 19, 2013 rated it liked it
The intro was wonderful and made me want to invite the author to dinner. Sadly, the intro was the best part. This book, noting how exits in our lives are ritualized across a variety of contexts, would have been much better as a long essay. Darn! Double darn!
Ryan Robinson
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Most of the narratives were interesting, some much more so than others. The analysis was deficient and I was left with what felt like a collection of people's stories when I wanted something more that brought them together.
Jul 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I am a big fan of Lawrence-Lightfoot, but was, frankly, disappointed with this book that I found perceptive at times, but very repetitive.
Jul 08, 2012 is currently reading it
First woman in Harvard History to have an endowment named after her. About different kinds of loss/endings and what can happen afterwards. Interesting stories.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
Some of the stories do not really tie in with the "Exit" theme. Not what I expected.
Diana Gardner Robinson
Sep 09, 2012 marked it as to-read
Added it after reading one newspaper review, but after reading the Amazon reviews I may not buy/read it.
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction-adult
In light of my new job, I moved this book to the top of my list. But it wasn't at all what I expected. Rather than case studies I was hoping for more research based text.
Nov 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I usually love her work, but this book seemed thin to me.
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it
The narratives themselves were quite good. The analysis accompanying the narratives? Definitely needed work. Seemed more summarization than synthesis. Disappointing.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Enh... Beyond the introduction, not much to take away.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it
This is no quick read, but there are some gems here for people of all ages as we transition to different seasons of life or change relationships.
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book for those grieving, or needing to make an exit of their own. Not as much sociology as just story.
rated it it was ok
Jun 03, 2012
rated it it was ok
Jun 08, 2013
rated it it was ok
May 26, 2018
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • One: How Many People Does It Take to Make a Difference?
  • Thoreau and the Language of Trees
  • Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community
  • The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships
  • The Spivak Reader: Selected Works
  • Freedom Is Blogging in Your Underwear
  • Brothers: On His Brothers and Brothers in History
  • Health Psychology
  • Three Men Seeking Monsters: Six Weeks in Pursuit of Werewolves, Lake Monsters, Giant Cats, Ghostly Devil Dogs & Ape-men
  • A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout
  • The Mindful Path through Shyness: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Help Free You from Social Anxiety, Fear, and Avoidance
  • The Healthy Pregnancy Book: Month by Month, Everything You Need to Know from America's Baby Experts
  • Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide
  • How to Stay Sane
  • The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll
  • The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions
  • Spark Your Dream: A True Life Story Where Dreams Are Fulfilled and We Are Inspired to Conquer Ours
  • The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is an American sociologist who examines the culture of schools, the patterns and structures of classroom life, socialization within families and communities, and the relationships between culture and learning styles. She has been a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education since the 1970s.