a memoir written by darin strauss

By jackie keane

Darin Strauss

Darin Strauss is the protagonist in his memoir Half A Life. Darin willingly brings the readers on a journey of reliving the hardest part of his life while being a senior on Long Island at North Shore High School. However, Strauss isn't characterized like any other teenager, he was brave, heartbroken, and a hopelessly sorry kid. But mainly, Strauss was strong. Strauss at times had to face hate from many including Celines family, friends, classmates, students, and others. Strauss explained "an AP english teacher, rancorous and grim, squinted my way:I'm almost positive he shook his head and grumbled as we passed each other" (Strauss 45). While walking into Celines funeral Strauss wrote, "An old man clamped his eyes on me as if he wanted to cut my heart out" (Strauss 54). Even after all of the grieve Strauss faced he was still able to over come what he had done and move on with his life, making him an extremely strong person.


Strauss only had a month left before graduation when the tragedy occurred. He had just turned eighteen and was driving his friends in his fathers car while on their way to putt-putt. Strauss and his friends were driving in the left lane while a pair of tiny bicyclists were on the right shoulder. The bicyclists were traveling in the same direction as the boys when one of the girls eased onto the road and made a crisp turn into the left lane and into the sudden car. The collision resulted in her death shortly after in the hospital. The 16 year old bicyclist named Celine Zilke went to Darins school and knew him. The rest of Darins memoir is his journey of how he learn to deal with the accident and overcome the fact that it was not his fault.


Strauss uses both imagery and theme to help develop his memoir. Strauss uses the five senses of imagery, see, taste, touch, hear, and smell, to allow readers to understand the traumatizing accident better. Strauss emphasizes visual imagery when he writes "Dark blond hair appeared very clearly in my windshield" (Strauss 3). He then goes on to use sound and touch by writing "The front seat passenger shouts. I picture my foot disappearing under the dash, kicking down for the break"(Strauss 3).

Half A Life's theme is another way the memoir was developed. Although Strauss memoir is very personal, its touches along many larger themes and can relate to many people. The memoirs overall theme is that "life happens" and that in any situation you can either accept what has happened or choose not to. We all have experienced, or will surely experience, tragedy or loss as unacceptable part of living. We have all thought at one point that we can not get through something and that nothing will ever be the same. This book reminds us that although we cannot change what happened we can change how we face the past.

Strauss use of imagery is a big part of why I enjoyed reading his book. His diction helped me as a reader imagine exactly how the accident occurred and exactly how he overcame his struggles after. The theme of Half A Life is the main reason why I would recommend this book to anyone. Anyone can relate "Half A Life" to a hardship they have faced, "Half A life" will remind you and encourage you that you can get through anything.

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