Half A Life

Darin Strauss

About Darin Strauss

Half a life, is a memoir about an 18 year old boy, Darin Strauss. in the beginning of the novel Darin is in the last month in highschool before graduation, and had his full driving license for a few months now. A new drivers worst nightmare is about to come true when Darin is driving to play miniature golf with a bunch of his friends one spring afternoon. The day was clear, and Darin was driving the legal speed limit. He wasn't drunk, nor high. Darin noticed a bunch of girls riding their bikes on the side of the road, and just in the blink of an eye, one girl came swerving over into his lane crashing right into Darin's car. The girls name was Celine Zilke and she was 16 years old, also attending the same high school as Darin. At the scene Celine seemed to be in critical condition later on at the hospital Celine, was pronounced dead. And just in that split second Darin's life had been changed forever. This was not Darin's fault, there was nothing he could have done to avoid this situation. So, feeling helpless and confused Darin doesn't know what to do. He attends Celine's funeral, Celine's mother gives Darin a hug, and tells him that they all know it wasn't his fault. What she also said was, "whatever you do in your life, you have to do it twice as well now, because you are living it for two people.’ at this point Darin feels completely weak, and all he can do is nod his head. Throughout the novel, it explains how Darin copes with this situation through the years. The accident slowly carved Darin from the inside out, coming up with a billion scenarios in his head, in which he could have avoided the accident. Eventually, Darin goes off to college and meets new people, and gets his mind off of the accident for a little, but his depression would come in waves, and when he got that wave of sadness he didn't quite know what to do with himself. This whole situation practically ate him alive to the point where he was numb. It takes years of therapy and years of healing for Darin to come face to face with reality. He has to accept the fact that this WAS an accident and this was NOT his fault. Strauss says that "A girl died, and the boy who killed her also died that day. In his place grew a man who heeded the words of that girl’s grieving mother, and in so doing, became a writer who returns to that moment again and again, attempting to reshape the irrevocable, searching for truth and meaning, if not solace, in the spot where the wound will never heal." Meaning, not only did Celine die, but metaphorically he died too, because after all of this happened his soul and his mindset will never be the same. Nobody deserves to be put in a situation like Darin's and this just goes to show how crazy life works, and anything can happen.
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Theme

Misunderstood. This accident was exactly what it sounds like, an accident. Even though those around Darin try to be as kind and supportive as they can, that doesn't help fix what he's done. Darin couldn't get it through his mind that this really wasn't his fault. He couldn't quite understand why Celine's parents acted as if they forgave him and understood this wasn't his intent, even though they tried suing Darin for millions of dollars. Darin has been a good kid his whole life and didn't understand why such a horrible thing happened to him, when he never did anything to deserve this. And yes, he realized that the Zilke family has lost their daughter and will never get her back, when he has his health and family supporting him. So, in a sense Darin feels selfish for having self pity over the situation. Life sometimes isn't fair, and there is no reason why bad things happen to good people. All you can do is live life day by day and work on making yourself a better, and stronger person.
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Recommendation

Overall, this memoir was touching. It is truly an eye-opener about how you have to live your life everyday to the fullest. I would absolutely reccomend this book to all ages, you don't need to be an avid reader to be hooked on this book. It's an easy and quick read, but has so much information about his life evenly spread out into about 200 pages. I think Darin is such a strong person in a sense that i don't know if i would be able to mentally cope with this situation by myself. Darin Strauss writes very fluently in a way that I was never confused as to what just happened. As i said in past paragraphs, you never know when life will throw you a huge curveball, nobody would mentally be prepared for a situation as serious as this one, but all you can do is practice on healing and improving yourself as a person.