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Extended Audio Sample Half a Life: A Memoir Audiobook, by Darin Strauss Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.43 out of 53.43 out of 53.43 out of 53.43 out of 53.43 out of 5 3.43 (30 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Darin Strauss Narrator: Darin Strauss Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2011 ISBN: 9780307988607
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In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad’s Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then a classmate swerved in front of his car, and the collision resulted in her death.

With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey—graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father. Along the way, he takes a hard look at loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and, at last, acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Elegant, painful, stunningly honest . . . huge [and] heartbreaking.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Darin Strauss has spent a good part of his adult life reliving, regretting and reflecting on a single, split-second incident. Half a Life is a starkly honest account of that fateful moment and his life thereafter . . . penetrating, thought-provoking.”

    Washington Post

  • “A book that inspires admiration, sentence by sentence…This is a memoir in its finest form, a fully imagined and bittersweet book that transcends a single misstep.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Painfully raw and beautifully written.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “A remarkable, beyond-brave memoir.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Lyrical and haunting.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography
  • A 2010 NPR Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 2/16/2014

    " Just as he was graduating high school, Darin Strauss' life was irreparably changed by an automobile accident. Physically unharmed, and by all accounts blameless, his view of self was changed to "after" and the weight of the accident colored every friendship and relationship for the succeeding 20 years. His frank discussion is painful. One wonders how different his situation would have been in the current era of instant news and googling for every piece of data. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy Bradley | 2/12/2014

    " On the cover, Carrie Fisher says "A story of hope and what it means to be human" and I agree. The author describes his writing as blunt and jumpy chapter and verse and I agree; however, that sometimes made the reading harder. I would recommend the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tina Schumann | 2/10/2014

    " Unsentimental,insightful read about surviving a tragic accident in early life and learning to live with it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sheila Kearns | 1/15/2014

    " I thought it was very interesting hearing his side of things, you generally only hear the victim's family and friends side of things. I don't think too many people stop and consider what a tragedy like this can do to someone who didn't really do anything wrong. He wasn't drinking or doing drugs he was just driving his friends and himself to have a day of fun, and then in one single moment his entire life had changed forever through no real fault of his own. Just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I found it to be a good insight into how certain moments can chage your life and who you are forever. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hope | 1/10/2014

    " The train-of-thought narrative of this book just wasn't my bag. Like another commenter said, I WANTED to like it, I just couldn't get into it. I probably only finished this book because it was short. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Miki | 1/9/2014

    " would give maybe 2.5. Author was longwinded, repetitive and writing style seemed like use of a lot of overly flowerly descriptions that seemed a bit dramatic. Story was interesting and was anxious to find end. end was ok but story could have been told in about 50 pages "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brandon Cahall | 1/5/2014

    " very readable, and the perfect length; raw but lyrical, poignant, and filled with profound insight. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimba (Caffeinated Book Reviewer) | 1/5/2014

    " wonderfully told story of loss, survival and the human condition "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tressa | 12/20/2013

    " Loved the opening line as it pulls you in. The writing style took a bit to get used to as it is choppy in points but his life seemed to be choppy, which made it work. I liked reading about his discoveries as he learned to deal with this tragedy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 12/7/2013

    " Morbid. If your into that kind of thing this is a decent quick read. Haunted me for weeks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meaghan Cook | 12/3/2013

    " I saw Darin read an excerpt from his book in a tiny bookstore in Paris. It was me and a whole bunch of NYU writing students crammed into a little room. I could feel his pain, still very raw. He seems to have written exactly as it is in his mind, without censoring. Brave. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily Lipnick | 11/30/2013

    " Started off with such an interesting premise and was incredibly well-written at the beginning, but lost my attention as the author got more generally introspective and less detailed about his actual experiences after the accident. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Echo Farmer | 11/24/2013

    " intense, quick read... very accurate portrayal of grief and guilt. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly Hoskins | 9/22/2013

    " One of the best things I've read...ever. Period. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tony | 7/18/2013

    " A pretty compelling read. I felt a little of "get over it, it's been 20 years." but things do go on, and on, as they did for this author--the law suit, the personal encounters, the flashbacks, and so on. I'm glad to know the ongoing detail, it gives empathy more to chew on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 5/27/2013

    " This book gets four stars simply for being a story I haven't heard before. Whether you like Strauss or not (I did not like him), you have to feel compassion for his circumstances and introspective about how a person can really handle a tragedy like this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsey Buis | 9/28/2012

    " I thought the beginning was interesting. I enjoyed Strauss's observations and could relate to his sense of grief and shame. I found the book healing for myself in that sense. I thought the last part of the book had some holes and was a little sparse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mrs. Roy | 5/18/2012

    " Lovely, lovely. lovely, and sad. I would read it again, and will be sharing parts of it with my students for the simple beauty of it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eoin | 2/20/2012

    " I was 100+ pages in before I realized this wasn't a novel. A remarkable, measured response to a life after trauma. A strong case for the idea that simple self-honesty is hard won and needs no embellishment. Worth it for the bad psychotherapy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 12/7/2011

    " All about living w/ guilt, an accident happens to 2 young people and the one really at fault, dies. A true story about growing up and learning to accept things that happen, maybe for no reason at all. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Melanie | 10/26/2011

    " I found this to be an awkward read that just wasn't interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 10/11/2011

    " This book is very plainly written but very good none the less. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynette | 9/29/2011

    " As I finished the last page, I could only think how an accident can change many lives!! Darin put in words his struggle. I would like to hear how the parents of the victim struggled. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carrie | 9/24/2011

    " I tend to like introspective stories and this certainly was but, to be honest, it was just too depressing to get through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelli | 9/22/2011

    " Incredible book. Read it in a day and could not put it down. Loved the writing, the voice, and the honesty of the story. This is on my top picks of books for the year. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carla | 9/20/2011

    " Glad I read it, but sometimes slow. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lori | 9/20/2011

    " Amazing memoir of a tragic accident that changes the author's life forever- Really written from the heart and very honest. I loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shira | 9/16/2011

    " A lot to think about. wonderful prose and description of a traumatic experience,. Book felt a sort of therapy for the author. I look forward to hearing the author speak in October here in Denver! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noah | 8/23/2011

    " Wow. I'm not sure this is really a whole book; it boils down to maybe 80 pages of text, but man are they a fascinating 80 pages. The rare memoir that's honest without being intentionally, falsely, over-the-top brutal in its honesty. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marybeth | 8/18/2011

    " It was just ok. I know this is a memoir but it was a little too much about Strauss. Does that make sense? "

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About the Author

Darin Strauss is the bestselling author of three previous books. The recipient of a Guggenheim in fiction writing and numerous other awards, Strauss has seen his work translated into fourteen languages and published in more than twenty countries. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Writing at New York University, and he lives with his wife and children in Brooklyn.