Rachel Gregory

Half a Life by Darin Strauss

How Darin's life changed in an instant

It was just an ordinary day for the protagonist Darin as he was driving to go play a few rounds of putt- putt with his friends. Little did he know that that drive would change his life forever.

While driving, Darin could see up ahead two bicyclists peddling on the right shoulder of the four lane road. Then suddenly out of nowhere one of the bicyclists swerved in front of Darin's car. It was then that he struck sixteen year old Celine Zilke with his Oldsmobile going only forty miles per hour. "Dark blond hair appeared very clearly in my windshield."

Although he didn't know Celine personally, Darin made the courageous decision to go to her funeral. At the the funeral Celine's mother embraced Darin and told him that she knew the accident wasn't his fault, she then said something that Darin would remember forever. "Whatever you do in your life, you have to do it twice as well now because you are living it for two people" is what she told him. After that everything Darin did he thought about doing it for Celine as well. When Darin started to apply to colleges, he thought of Celine and how she would never get the chance to go to college. When Darin got a soda from the mini mart he grasped the can and thought that Celine would never be able to grip and feel a soda can in her hand again. Time went on and the Zilke's decided to file a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Darin. The lawsuit dragged on for years but fell through in the end when the Zilke's finally came to the realization that there was no case.

As Darin got older he kept the accident a secret from the world. It was eating him from the inside out. The only thing that was keeping sane was the theory that he believed Celine was attempting to commit suicide at the time of the accident. Darin finally found someone to share the accident with when he met the love of his life. With her help he was able to cope with the accident and slowly heal himself from sleepless nights and nightmares. With her help he also thought of Celine less and less. What had seemed like a vivid depressing thought was now a distant memory thanks to Darin's wife. Ultimately, this book is a very sad book about coming to terms with past actions however tragic and painful they are.

I would not recommend this book because many parts in the memoir were hard to get through because the text was moving very slowly. I felt that I was bored of reading at many parts in the book. I am also not a fan of memoirs so I would only recommend this book to someone who enjoys reading sad memoirs.

Character Analysis

When the accident happened, the protagonist, Darin, was only eighteen years old. He was going to apply to Tufts University and he was like any other high school senior awaiting his high school graduation. After the accident happened Darin had to live with the guilt of hitting and killing a sixteen year old girl with his car. Throughout the book Darin is very depressed and lonely. He keeps the accident a secret from everyone because he doesn't want anyone to judge him harshly because of his past experiences. It is only when he meets the love of his life that things start to change. Darin is able to open up to his wife about the accident more then he ever had with anyone else before. This helps him because he begins to think of Celine less and and soon the accident becomes a distant memory from his past.


In Half a Life by Darin Strauss, Strauss uses characterization in order to help the reader better visualize the characters. His use of characterization enables the reader to really connect with the characters by painting a picture in their mind of how the characters look, act, and feel in the story. When a reader feels more connected to a story, it allows them to want to keep reading in order to find out more about the characters in the story.


In Half a Life by Darin Strauss, Strauss uses setting in order to help the reader really grasp the scene in the book. The use of setting allows the reader to be sucked into the scene of the book while reading. Being sucked into the scene of the book better enables the reader to visualize and connect to the story better. The use of setting also helps the reader paint a picture of different scenes that are happening in the story. A description of the setting can help the reader feel what the character in the book feels just through descriptive adjectives.