History Of A Suicide

History Of A Suicide

My Sister's Unfinished Life

Book - 2011
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"It is so nice to be happy. It always gives me a good feeling to see other people happy. . . . It is so easy to achieve." --Kim's journal entry, May 3, 1988

On the night of April 15, 1990, Jill Bialosky's twenty-one-year-old sister Kim came home from a bar in downtown Cleveland. She argued with her boyfriend on the phone. Then she took her mother's car keys, went into the garage, closed the garage door. She climbed into the car, turned on the ignition, and fell asleep. Her body was found the next morning by the neighborhood boy her mother hired to cut the grass.

Those are the simple facts, but the act of suicide is anything but simple. For twenty years, Bialosky has lived with the grief, guilt, questions, and confusion unleashed by Kim's suicide. Now, in a remarkable work of literary nonfiction, she re-creates with unsparing honesty her sister's inner life, the events and emotions that led her to take her life on this particular night. In doing so, she opens a window on the nature of suicide itself, our own reactions and responses to it--especially the impact a suicide has on those who remain behind.

Combining Kim's diaries with family history and memoir, drawing on the works of doctors and psychologists as well as writers from Melville and Dickinson to Sylvia Plath and Wallace Stevens, Bialosky gives us a stunning exploration of human fragility and strength. She juxtaposes the story of Kim's death with the challenges of becoming a mother and her own exuberant experience of raising a son. This is a book that explores all aspects of our familial relationships--between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters--but particularly the tender and enduring bonds between sisters.

History of a Suicide brings a crucial and all too rarely discussed subject out of the shadows, and in doing so gives readers the courage to face their own losses, no matter what those may be. This searing and compassionate work reminds us of the preciousness of life and of the ways in which those we love are inextricably bound to us.
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, c2011
ISBN: 9781439101933
Branch Call Number: 132.65 B470h
Characteristics: xx, 252 p. ; 23 cm


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Oct 26, 2014

It is hard to give a bad review when it is clear that the person is trying so hard to be excrutiatingly honest. The lifelong emotional and reality impact of her sister's death in a moment of tragic decision is clearly written.

What I take from this book is that death is not the final goodbye by any means. Writer also had to deal witlh two early deaths of her children when all this was going on -- that's a lot to carry - a lot to deal with.

She touchingly illustrate the gift her sister inadvertantly gave her of not taking life for granted of balancing carefulness with an understanding that there is just so much you can control.

Aug 28, 2014

I have seen bad reviews on this book but I personally think it was wonderfully written and I really enjoyed the way she put in a lot of information in regards to psychologist and studies and everything she quoted! I really could not put this book down! I was sad when it was over! ALSO I would have to say I am confident that in the right persons hands this can really give insight on how suicide affects each person individually and the ways we deal with loss!

Jul 12, 2011

I did not think this was well written. It was choppy and repetitive and made me feel like I was reading a college essay. It also made me wish that the author had sought counseling after her sisters suicide - if only for the sake of her long suffering husband and, especially, her son who seems to have lived in the troubled shadows of his mothers obsession with her own guilt and denial.

May 16, 2011

Very well written with references to poets and philosophers who all at one time or another tried to answer the question of what would lead someone to take their own life. Thoughtful and touching book.

debwalker Apr 02, 2011

"Could the aftermath of a suicide be depicted any more poignantly than this? "Everyone...at the grave site must have wondered what he or she might have said or done that may have affected Kim's act, and our responsibility left us speechless." So writes poet and novelist Bialosky of her sister's decision to end her life at age 21. Bialosky was as much mother as sister to Kim, and her death, even two decades later, remains as devastating as the loss of a child. This searing elegy is the author's release from speechlessness and an encouragement to other suicide survivors to find such release. Studded with Kim's writings and informed by the latest research, this memoir reads like butter and cuts like a knife."
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