A compassionate and frank look at depression and the social pressure faced by many college students as seen through the eyes...

WHAT MADE MADDY RUN

THE SECRET STRUGGLES AND TRAGIC DEATH OF AN ALL-AMERICAN TEEN

What led to one teen athlete’s suicide.

When Maddy Holleran began attending college at the University of Pennsylvania and continued her athletic career as a member of the track team, she and everyone who knew her could only imagine the best for this outgoing and popular 19-year-old. But as her freshman year progressed, Maddy slipped into depression, falling deeper and deeper into a black pit that surprised and confused her. She attempted to maintain appearances, writing cheery text messages and Facebook posts, but inside, she felt increasingly numb and unhappy. Friends, relatives, and counselors told her it was normal, the type of homesickness and transitional unhappiness almost every first-year student experienced, and that she would get through it. But they were all wrong. Using Maddy’s text messages, emails, letters, and information compiled from family and friends, ESPN columnist Fagan (The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians, 2014, etc.) expertly re-creates the last months of Maddy’s life. Interspersed with Maddy’s story is an analysis of the type of commitment that is required to be a college athlete and the building pressure that many college students feel to appear happy, healthy, and successful in their given paths, despite any underlying doubt or despair. The author pays particular attention to the increasingly prominent role of social media and the disparity when one compares the online persona of someone like Maddy, who gave no definite indication that something was seriously wrong, with the actual issues at hand. Echoing the feelings Maddy must have felt, Fagan includes personal reflections on her own college athletic career, her desire to quit playing basketball, and the difficulty she had in figuring out what to do.

A compassionate and frank look at depression and the social pressure faced by many college students as seen through the eyes of one young woman.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-35654-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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A potent depiction of grief, but also a book lacking the originality and acerbic prose that distinguished Didion’s earlier...

  • National Book Critics Circle Finalist

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING

A moving record of Didion’s effort to survive the death of her husband and the near-fatal illness of her only daughter.

In late December 2003, Didion (Where I Was From, 2003, etc.) saw her daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne, hospitalized with a severe case of pneumonia, the lingering effects of which would threaten the young woman’s life for several months to come. As her daughter struggled in a New York ICU, Didion’s husband, John Gregory Dunne, suffered a massive heart attack and died on the night of December 30, 2003. For 40 years, Didion and Dunne shared their lives and work in a marriage of remarkable intimacy and endurance. In the wake of Dunne’s death, Didion found herself unable to accept her loss. By “magical thinking,” Didion refers to the ruses of self-deception through which the bereaved seek to shield themselves from grief—being unwilling, for example, to donate a dead husband’s clothes because of the tacit awareness that it would mean acknowledging his final departure. As a poignant and ultimately doomed effort to deny reality through fiction, that magical thinking has much in common with the delusions Didion has chronicled in her several previous collections of essays. But perhaps because it is a work of such intense personal emotion, this memoir lacks the mordant bite of her earlier work. In the classics Slouching Toward Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979), Didion linked her personal anxieties to her withering dissection of a misguided culture prey to its own self-gratifying fantasies. This latest work concentrates almost entirely on the author’s personal suffering and confusion—even her husband and daughter make but fleeting appearances—without connecting them to the larger public delusions that have been her special terrain.

A potent depiction of grief, but also a book lacking the originality and acerbic prose that distinguished Didion’s earlier writing.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2005

ISBN: 1-4000-4314-X

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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