“Half my life ago, I killed a girl”. That opening line grabs the reader, immediately. What happened? How did it happen? Suddenly, all these questions popped into my head, and I had to know more about this story.
Half A Life is a true story. It is a memoir that the author wrote about something that actually happened to him, and about how he managed to cope with it. When he was eighteen years old, he was driving his father’s car. A few of his friends were with him. They were heading out to have some fun, not unlike most people that age. It was supposed to be a normal, relaxing day.
That’s not how things went, though. What happened instead changed his life, forever. A girl from his high school was bicycling on the side of the road. In the book, he calls her “Celine”, but I am not sure that was her real name. All of a sudden, she swerved into the road, and Darin hit her with his car. She survived the initial accident, barely, but didn’t make it. At eighteen years old, he killed a girl with his car.
The book gives an unflinchingly, often painfully, honest examination of the events of that day. The author reveals his every thought, every emotion, every action, from that day, no matter how embarrassing or exposing those things may be. It is an incredibly compelling story.
Some eighteen years later, Darin Strauss wrote Half A Life, about the event that happened “half a life” ago. The book includes his ability, or inability, to cope with what happened. How do you go back to school after killing a classmate, (even though it was an accident)? What is it like to deal with the girl’s parents? Should you attend her funeral? How do you cope with having to drive down that road, where it happened, ever again?
He did manage to go on with his life. He would have had to, of course. He grew up, got married, had children. All through his life, thoughts of “Celine” stayed with him. He thought of her when he got married, and when his wife told him she was pregnant. He worried that employers would find out what he’d done when he was eighteen, and fire him. Eventually, he decided to tell his wife about what happened, and experience her reaction to it. There was a court case that he was involved in.
There is more in this book than I can adequately describe here. It is an incredibly compelling read, that is achingly honest, about an incident that really did happen. If you have a severe driving phobia, then this book probably has a few “triggers” in it that you may want to avoid. For everyone else, I highly recommend this book.