An honest, loving account of losing someone and finding them again.

THE LAST DAY OF REGRET

Diaz reflects on the death of his sister Hannah in this debut Christian memoir.

Diaz’s sister Hannah was five years his junior, and though they got along well enough as children, by the time Hannah was 24, Diaz was only speaking to her indirectly, using his mother or his wife as an intermediary. “Some people are givers, and some are takers,” explains the author, who had three young children at the time demanding his full emotional attention. “My sister was a taker, and my solution was to stop giving. It was Hannah’s world, and the rest of us were just living in it.” A challenging personality since the age of 14 and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at 20, Hannah had spent years drinking, taking drugs, having promiscuous sex, overeating, and self-harming. Not long after yet another spat and tentative reconciliation, Diaz got a voice message from his mother: “Her lips are blue. Come quick.” At first Diaz suspected suicide, but as more facts emerged, the truth of Hannah’s death became unclear. This book represents Diaz’s attempt to find closure in his relationship with his sister. In it, he records the difficulties—and triumphs—of her brief life, interrogating his own mistakes and interpreting the events according to his Christian faith. What emerges is an exploration of regret: both the regret Diaz feels for things he did or did not do and the regrets that plagued Hannah in the final years of her life. Diaz’s prose is imbued with the grief, remorse, empathy, and frustration that one would expect as he recalls the tumultuous nature of his relationship with his sister: “I don’t think I blatantly ignored her as a form of malice. I was doing my best not to respond negatively, but I just ended up not responding at all.” While this sometimes rises to a level of saccharine, the narration is generally grounded and conversational. He approaches the subject with humility, and he manages to portray Hannah in a surprisingly sympathetic light. Diaz sees every tragedy as an opportunity to learn from God—a perspective that seems to serve him well. There may be similar memoirs with more polished narrative structures, but the sincerity that pervades Diaz’s book does much to buoy its emotional impact.

An honest, loving account of losing someone and finding them again.

Pub Date: March 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973657-42-2

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

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The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he...

LIVES OTHER THAN MY OWN

The latest from French writer/filmmaker Carrère (My Life as a Russian Novel, 2010, etc.) is an awkward but intermittently touching hybrid of novel and autobiography.

The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he describes powerfully. Carrère and his partner, Hélène, then return to Paris—and do so with a mutual devotion that's been renewed and deepened by all they've witnessed. Back in France, Hélène's sister Juliette, a magistrate and mother of three small daughters, has suffered a recurrence of the cancer that crippled her in adolescence. After her death, Carrère decides to write an oblique tribute and an investigation into the ravages of grief. He focuses first on Juliette's colleague and intimate friend Étienne, himself an amputee and survivor of childhood cancer, and a man in whose talkativeness and strength Carrère sees parallels to himself ("He liked to talk about himself. It's my way, he said, of talking to and about others, and he remarked astutely that it was my way, too”). Étienne is a perceptive, dignified person and a loyal, loving friend, and Carrère's portrait of him—including an unexpectedly fascinating foray into Étienne and Juliette's chief professional accomplishment, which was to tap the new European courts for help in overturning longtime French precedents that advantaged credit-card companies over small borrowers—is impressive. Less successful is Carrère's account of Juliette's widower, Patrice, an unworldly cartoonist whom he admires for his fortitude but seems to consider something of a simpleton. Now and again, especially in the Étienne sections, Carrère's meditations pay off in fresh, pungent insights, and his account of Juliette's last days and of the aftermath (especially for her daughters) is quietly harrowing.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9261-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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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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