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After the Eclipse: A Mother's Murder, a Daughter's Search

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  3,842 ratings  ·  543 reviews
A fierce memoir of a mother’s murder, a daughter’s coming-of-age in the wake of immense loss, and her mission to know the woman who gave her life.

When Sarah Perry was twelve, she saw a partial eclipse of the sun, an event she took as a sign of good fortune for her and her mother, Crystal. But that brief moment of darkness ultimately foreshadowed a much larger one: two day
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,842 ratings  ·  543 reviews

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Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, non-fiction
One of the best memoirs I've ever read. The writing was incredible and Perry's ability to both separate herself from the events that took place but also put you right at the heart of it with her is impressive and heart-wrenching. Definitely a book that I will be thinking about for quite some time. Highly recommend this but know that it's quite brutal at times due to the subject matter.
This book is for those who like memoirs, who want all the feels of a real person's experience, who especially enjoy the personal stories of those who overcome tragedies that would fell lesser men, who believe that often victims don't get their due in terms of the complexity of their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their choices. None of the foregoing describes me.

I read this for an IRL True Crime book club. My interest in true crime is driven by an appreciation for forensic science, for the c
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is such a well-written and powerful read. Sarah Perry was only 12 years old when her mother was murdered as she lay sleeping in the next room. The murder was particularly brutal and vicious and Sarah heard it as it was happening. It would take 12 years to find the murderer.

Sarah’s story is one of “before” and “after” the murder. It is part memoir, part true crime/courtroom drama. But mostly it's the story of the close relationship she and her mother enjoyed, and the devastating years after
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Told with spare prose and gut-wrenching honesty, even when this puts her and her family in a bad light, this memoir is hard to read, but well worth the effort. I can't even imagine how I would have felt if I was a witness to my mother's murder at age12. I admire her strength and her resolve.
Ericka Seidemann
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is a powerful book.

In 1994, Sarah Perry’s mother, Crystal, was murdered in their home while Sarah was only a room away. It was a brutality I can’t even fathom. 12-year-old Sarah was thrust into a world of fear, abandonment, and unspeakable grief.

More than a recounting of events, Sarah gives the reader the complete atmosphere of growing up in rural Maine, and the people of the small town of Bridgton that made up her world. She delves into the person her mother was, and what made her wh
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This memoir is a love letter to her Mother who was murdered. At times it is adjective, adverb, analogy overblown but it comes out of heartfelt agony for the dependence of their lives upon each other, within the horror of her Mother's end. Abrupt, audibly witnessed and brutal murder ripped her from Sarah's life at 12. Her Mother was then 30.

There are passages I could quote, so psychologically apt for "grief" periods. How family, kin, social welfare people, doctors- all of them. To what levels tha
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
Twelve-year-old Sarah Perry woke in the middle of the night to the sound of screaming. She sat, frozen in terror, for an indeterminate period of time. She ventured out of her bedroom to the darkened scene of this crime after the assailant had fled. Her mother was a shadow slumped ominously on the floor. The telephones were not working. Sarah slipped into the stillness of her rural Maine neighborhood to dart from house to house, looking for help. No door opened to her. She would eventually reach ...more
lucky little cat
Exemplary true crime memoir. Perry never loses sight of who she was as a child, and her account of her mother's murder unexpectedly
allows us to root for that child-self throughout the book. Perry's mother, Crystal, killed violently at age 30, had been doing everything right: she'd divorced her unstable husband, bought her own small home, was holding down a steady job, and was raising a well-adjusted daughter, age twelve. Sarah Perry tells her mother's story eloquently, sp
Preston Witt
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
(I have a review copy.) I figured After the Eclipse was going to be heartbreaking, but I couldn't possibly have known it was going to be this good, this devastating, and this important. The whole world feels a little different. I'm stunned. It's (alarmingly) rare for someone to have something new to say. It's even rarer for a writer to be at the right time and place for that story to have a real impact. But this tender and insightful memoir has the chance to actually change the way we think abou ...more
Valerity (Val)
This is a beautifully written book about loss and coming of age by Sarah Perry. It's relatable with the recent eclipse we had too in a way, as the tragedy in her life happened just 2 days after she experienced an eclipse. Almost like it was a bad omen, her mother Crystal was killed in a horrific murder in their home, just one room away from her daughter who was awakened and heard it happening and bravely managed to escape. Sarah shares what the years were like growing up without either parent, b ...more
Claire Fuller
Wow, this book. It's heartbreaking without being sentimental, horrific without being gratuitous, sparsely written while still being completely absorbing. It's about the murder of Crystal Perry in 1994, while her daughter, Sarah Perry is hiding in her bedroom, aged 12. Perry draws a vivid portrait of her mother and her life, as well as the difficulties Perry herself faced after the murder, when being passed from one family member to another. This is definitely going to be one of my top books of t ...more
Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
"Because of her, I used to try and save the tiny moles our cat chased in the yard. Because of her, I sing along to the radio, in my terrible voice, and I drive with the windows down, the air whipping across my arms. Because of her, I will always believe love is possible. Her name was Crystal. She cast light."

This book is a raw, beautiful memorial to the woman that Crystal Perry was and an incredible feat of resiliency, courage and strength on the part of her daughter, Sarah, as she sought ans
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: from-brnri
This was one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of them.

Sarah Perry was twelve when her single mother was murdered by an unknown monster in the room next to hers. She heard it all; she was powerless to stop it. After The Eclipse is her powerful story. It takes us through the years with her mom, the agonizing experience of her loss, and everything that follows. This was meticulously researched and the writing was out of this world. Just read it.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book....So heartbreaking, so well written - it's unbelievable that this is a memoir. I hope Sarah keeps writing.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

A daughter's loving tribute to the mother she lost way too early. This is an extremely well-written yet heartbreaking memoir of the life and untimely death of Crystal Perry.

Twelve year old Sarah Perry is awakened one night by the sound of her mother, Crystal's, screams as Crystal is being violently murdered.

After losing her mother, Sarah is passed from one family member to another until she leaves for college. All the while missing her sweet and beautiful mother every single d
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
Gosh I really hate writing reviews for memoirs. I always feel like I’m passing judgment on the author themself rather than the actual book.

Anyway, this is an interesting memoir. It’s part true crime, part the story of an ordinary loved woman, and part a frustrating description of unloving dysfunctional family members (that reminded me a bit of Hillbilly Elegy). I loved that she wrote the story of her mother’s life, not just her murder. I think she was pretty honest and fair about herself and he
Julia Phillips
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Terribly beautiful, thoughtful and rich
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that leaves me with a lot of complex feelings. The author, Sarah Perry, was only 12 when her mother Crystal was murdered in the next room of their house. This book is part memoir, part investigative journalism, as Sarah describes her mother as a person before the crime and her mother as a victim of a terrible crime.

It's a love letter to her mother, who was a beautiful and flawed woman — Perry never shrinks away from that. Her life after the murder was also difficult, with family
Hayley Stenger
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was incredibly honest and heartbreaking.
This tells the story of the murder of Crystal Perry in 1994. Her daughter, Sarah, was in the next room listening. The story is tragic. Sarah goes to explain the history of her family, much of it contains abuse and hard times.
Sarah explains what happened to her after the murder of her mother; how she was moved from family to family at the age of 12. Many of her family members did not understand how to allow her to properly grieve, and did not kn
Amy Morgan
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Beautifully candid and courageous this was a very emotional read. At 12 years old Sarah is plunged into a living nightmare when her mother is murdered and it is 12 long years before the killer is finally caught. My heart hurt for this poor child to lose her mother and to have a family who couldn't look past their own pain enough to care for her the way they should have in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. ...more
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sera by: Book Page Magazine
Excellent true story about a 12 year old girl whose mother is murdered while the daughter was in the next room sleeping. The story chronicles the relationship between the girl and the mother and then search to catch the mother's killer. A sad story that shows how the human spirit continues to persevere even during the worst of tragedies. Perry learns much about her mother through this experience, but even more about herself and the family and friends around her.

I highly recommend this book.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So so so so so so great.
Anne-Marie Eberhardt
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Truly powerful. Sarah Perry’s story is heartbreaking and inspiring. Her mother would be very proud.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley


This book completely sucker punched me in the feels and I'm still a wreck thinking about this book.

I requested it because it sounded interesting and when I was younger, like grade school young, I would read true crime books like they were candy.

I have no idea why my younger self was into that sort of thing and it kind of disturbs me now. And this book is why.

The author's mother was murdered when the author was a girl of 12 years old. She was there and HEARD it happen and saw the immed
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-review
An extremely compelling book of memoir and crime writing. Sarah Perry confronts a lot in this book - institutionalized sexism and misogyny, family violence, domestic abuse, gender roles, trauma - and has created a complete work that brings her mother’s life and her own life into parallel and contrasting narratives. At the same time, there is no sensationalism. Although the catalyst for the work was the trial of her mother’s murderer, Perry uses the information she has gathered to better understa ...more
Wynne Kontos
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Sarah Perry was honored at the 2018 Triangle Awards, an event I worked in my graduate school job. The MFA-creative writing world is very small, and Perry graduated a few years back from Columbia's program, I was surprised I hadn't heard of her. She was quiet, with short hair and not very tall. She spoke eloquently and I was shocked by the story behind her memoir, "After the Eclipse."

When she was 12, Sarah's single mother, Crystal, was brutally murdered in their home. Sarah heard the whole thing
Josephine Quealy
It doesn’t escape my notice that I happened to finish this book on the anniversary of my mother’s death. A mother I barely remember and, now that all the people who were willing to talk about her in terms other than sainthood are gone, someone I can only ever know from photos and a brief holiday diary and some letters. It’s not enough but the only thing that would be enough was to have her still her, to have the luxury of taking her self, who she would be, for granted. But nothing would ever be ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In After The Eclipse, Sarah Perry does a phenomenal job telling the story of her mother Crystal’s life and death, as well as the story of her own life before and after her mother was raped and murdered. The way she weaves the past and present together, as well as provides both facts and insightful observations, is truly outstanding. The fact the story takes place in a small town in Maine was interesting, too, since stories like Ms. Perry’s usually seem to come from down South, instead of up Nort ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I watch a lot of true crime. Actually, I don't really WATCH it so much as I have it on while I'm painting... or doing dishes. This book is a true crime story but it's told from the perspective of a woman who was a child when someone viciously and brutally stabbed her mother to death (50 times) while she was forced to listen from the other side of a closed door.

This true story is the author's way of honoring the memory of her beloved mother - and it succeeds beautifully. Perry is a brilliant stor
Hannah Bierwirth
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: botm
I will admit that at times I felt I was reading a slow-moving thriller while reading this book. And then I would realize my mistake and feel absolutely horrible, because this is not some gaudy crime novel, but Sarah Perry’s actual life. She can’t make up events to move the story along - she has organized her life into a memoir. This is first and foremost a love letter to her mother. Sarah delves into her mother’s childhood, her love life, her friendships, her struggles, all while framing the bru ...more
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SARAH PERRY holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction from Columbia University, where she served as publisher of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art and was a member of the journal's nonfiction editorial board. She is the recipient of a Writers’ Fellowship from the Edward F. Albee Foundation and a Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, and has attended residencies at Norton Island in M ...more

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