Half A Life

By Darin Strauss

Episode 15: Darin Strauss

Character Analysis

A month before he was supposed to graduate high school, 18-year old Darin Strauss experienced, without question, a very traumatic event. After the car accident that leads to the death of a fellow classmate, Celine Zilke, Strauss becomes emotionally wrecked. He then embarks on an immediate emotional journey. Strauss begins a relationship with a therapist to help him get through this tragedy. The therapist is ultimately ineffective when he, in fact, does not listen to what Strauss is trying to say. ""How do you feel?"..."I feel pretty good? Somehow I didn't let the tears fall." This shows how Strauss doesn't know quite how to express what he is feeling inside. He's unsure if crying is appropriate at the moment or if he should just hold it back. "What I wanted to tell her was: "I'm sorry I haven't cried. I may not look it, but I'm overcome by this, a total mess, a wreck on two feet." I didn't say that-not that, or much of anything I can recall." Strauss mentions that he is overcome with everything that has happened. He isn't sure what he should say to Zilke's best friend and he doesn't know how to handle all of his emotions. This shows that he is a kind, caring person but he just doesn't know what to do or how to fix it dealing with such a difficult situation. At Zilke's funeral Strauss was overwhelmed with emotions and once again he didn't know what to do. "I was bewildered and guilt-ridden and I hadn't even faced Celine's parents yet." Strauss' character is filled with so much compassion, kindheartedness and sorrow for an 18-year old, it's very tough for him to deal with.
Strauss' Thoughts

Author, Darin Strauss, shares his thoughts on the accident and his novel.

Plot Development

The theme of 'living life for two people' shows how Strauss, in this particular situation, was unclear into exactly what he was agreeing to, living his life for both himself and ZIlke. Strauss did not fully understand what was being asked of him by Mrs. ZIlke. "But somehow it still didn't seem right to promise Mrs. Zilke this. How can you commit to something you don't even understand?" The characterization of Darin Strauss shows that although this event took a huge toll on him he still tried the best he could to get past it. He was regretful for a large part of his life and would often question what the cause was, either himself or Zilke. This just shows that he is a compassionate person because it was ruled that he was not to blame but he just couldn't get past it and it was always on his mind. "Who was I kidding, I'll never get over this...and was that the sadder thing, life forcing you just to go on? I thought how vacant and baggy their house must seem." This helps to further explain the idea that this accident caused tremendous grief and sorrow on such a young adult. He was overwhelmed with emotions and was unsure what the next step in his life, whether it be to try and move on or not.
SIWC 2011 - Darin Strauss


In the beginning of this novel I enjoyed it. After the accident scene and as the novel went on I began to feel as though the book was being dragged on and kept repeating itself. I got very bored and tired of it easily and at times did not want to continue reading. Although it is a memoir I think that Strauss could have found a better way to portray the incidents and his feelings in a more exciting manner. If this book wasn't required to read I would've stopped before I got to the middle. Therefore, I would not recommend this book.