Monday, November 8, 2010

Half a Life

Darin Strauss, the author of Chang and Eng (which is still on my TBR pile) has just published his memoir, Half a Life. Strauss was involved in an accident near the end of his senior year of high school when another classmate swerved while riding her bike, into the path of Strauss' car. Celine was killed, and Strauss was left to come to terms with the guilt that became a part of him. In this spare reflection on this aspect of his life, Strauss recounts his initial uncertainty on exactly how to react and feel to his present day thoughts of the accident that is always with him.

When Strauss makes contact with Celine's parents her mother makes sure to impress upon him that now he must live well enough for two people. Often Strauss finds himself evaluating his life choices and successes by this standard.

These reflections were so interesting to me - it is obvious that while Celine lost her life and her family was devastated by this, Strauss also suffered - perhaps suffers- by an act that took place over only mere seconds. The fact that he was not at fault, that her bike swerved into his path with no forewarning or time for him to react, does not lessen the guilt he has lived with. This event occurred at a time in Strauss' life when he was just finding out who he was, on the cusp of manhood. His career path, his spouse, were both decisions that may have been different had this horrendous event never happened.

Half a Life is a quick read, but one that will leave you thinking long after you are done.

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