By: Janine Santorelli

A memoir by Darin Strauss

Darin Strauss at First-Year Experience® 2012 Random House Luncheon

Darin Strauss Character Analysis

Darin Strauss struggles his whole life due to an accident he had senior year. Darin was driving to a mini golf range with friends when a bicyclist swerved two lanes over into his car. Not only was the bicyclist dead, but she was discovered to be one of his classmates, Celine Zilke. Not only did the accident emotionally effect Darin, but it stayed with him and will stay with him forever. Darin felt guilty for feeling lucky he was alive constantly, "I don't pretend it's all right that I felt even half-okay, for even a half a minute." (Strauss 21). Darin feels as though when interacting with people that they should not be so understanding of what he's done, "'Thanks' I said. "But it's just-" And why couldn't I let it drop? All they'd done was agree to try to buck me up. I wanted to shout: Come on someone died!" (Strauss 147) Although Darin Strauss struggles with this his whole life he eventually learns to live his life and enjoy the little things.

Theme and Setting of Half A Life

Throughout the story of Half A Life, there is a constant theme of carrying Celine with him. When Darin met Celine's mother for the first time, she told him something that stuck with him forever, "But I want you to remember something. Whatever you do in life, you have to do it twice as well now." Her voice went dim. "Because you are living it for two people." (Strauss 56). Darin stays true to his promise and carries Celine with him everywhere to go, "I'd entered adulthood sensing Celine with me. I'd entered romantic life sensing Celine with me." (Strauss 153). With a setting in a local Long Island small town, the memoir feels close to home. Darin being a senior in high school, a month away from graduation before the accident happens, shows how traumatizing this tragic event was for him, and how it shaped who he was.


Personally, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to my peers. This books represented the mental strength it takes to cope with an accidental death. Darin Strauss had difficulty finding who he was after this accident and the ambiguity. Although i would like to believe myself that Celine swerved in front of his car as a form of suicide, I, like Darin, don't know that. Reading this book and hearing Darin's thought process and how he overcame his depression from this is truly inspiring.