My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“Half my life ago, I killed a girl.”
So begins Darin Strauss’ Half a Life, the true story of how one outing in his father’s Oldsmobile resulted in the death of a classmate and the beginning of a different, darker life for the author. We follow Strauss as he explores his startling past—collision, funeral, the queasy drama of a high-stakes court case—and what starts as a personal tale of a tragic event opens into the story of how to live with a very hard fact: we can try our human best in the crucial moment, and it might not be good enough. Half a Life is a nakedly honest, ultimately hopeful examination of guilt, responsibility, and living with the past.
When I first started this book, it held so much promise to be a great read. The author kills a girl. Its horrifying and sad and unfair to both of them. But what resonated with me the most was the way Strauss reacted. There was all the right emotions and words on the outside. But he made me feel the shock and numbness and that ever-present belief that the world is watching you. A feeling that only truly seems logical to the teenager. I was right there in his head with him, all the way up to two-thirds of the book. And then he lost me.
He was still writing about the same things and the words were right, but it felt like he never grew out of his teenager years. In a way I kind of understand that. When something devastating happens, its hard to move on. I could forgive that, but he never did anything! It was page after page of how sorry he felt, how heartbroken he was, how he was trying to move on.
It felt as though he was still healing, still learning who he was after the accident. And maybe, if I had kept reading he would have eventually gotten to that part, but I can only go so far before the self-pity becomes more than even I am comfortable with, and I do love me some self-pitying books – just as long as the narrator eventually gets over it.
This was a first – books that I won in a Goodreads.com giveaway.
- “My diligently constructed narrative” (americanfiction.wordpress.com)
- Writing Tip #40 (makingbabygrand.com)
- Announcing: the Frequency North reading series 2011-2012 season! (stroseenglish.wordpress.com)