Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Half a Life

In 1988, Darin Strauss was a month away from graduating from high school. As he and a few of his friends headed to play miniature golf, he accidentally hits a classmate and kills her. For the next eighteen years, Strauss carries the guilt of that day and the ghost of Celine, the sixteen-year old girl from his high school who unexpectedly steered her bicycle into the path of his car.

Inexplicably but irrevocably connected, Strauss awoke every day hereafter with the thought of some aspect of that tragedy. Whether it was the way he acted at the scene, half way flirting with two girls who stopped and offered sympathy, or how Celine's father brought him ice tea when he stopped by her home to offer condolences, Strauss suffers and struggles greatly under the weight of the guilt for her death.

He writes, “What I hated in myself, for more than half a life now, was feeling lucky for being alive. For not being blamed. Merely for being allowed to continue, when Celine wasn't. How could anyone be unhappy about that? But how could a person with my story agree to feel relieved and blessed? The accident has formed me. I can no more discard it than I can discard having grown into adulthood.”

Strauss's personal journey reads differently. Perhaps its his acute and sensitive prose, his brutal transparency, his probing and picking at the truth of what happened to him in his past, but there is something extraordinary and original about Half a Life.

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