Saturday, September 22, 2012

The History of a Suicide, by Jill Bialosky

Jill's younger sister Kim committed suicide at the young age of 21. Jill has spent years trying to not only cope with her loss, but also make sense of her sister's decision.  Jill talks about going through her sister's writing, as well as police reports from Kim's death, to try to piece together the full picture.  Through her journey, Jill learns about herself as well as her sister.

This book was intense, for mostly personal reason's.  Before we were ever married, we lost a member of my  husband's family to suicide, which is what really drew me to this book initially.  This book certainly sparked a lot of emotions and conversation among my book club.  The book raises a lot of questions about mental health from a family systems perspective.  There were a lot of literary references, which I mostly greatly appreciated, and will certainly appeal to many readers.  However, readers not as familiar with the works and authors discussed will not get as much out of them.  

The thing that struck me as endlessly frustrating was the great casual tone to so much of the topics covered.  Marital strife of Kim's parents, Kim's drug use, and both Kim and Jill having teenage abortions are mentioned in such casual manner, yet never delved into in terms of the possible impact of these things on Kim's mental state.  It felt shocking to me that Kim's family seemingly knew she was deeply troubled, taking drugs, in an abusing relationship, yet did very little (at least as described by Jill) to step in.  

The writing could have been a little tighter for my taste, as the style seems to shift between poetry, prose, and objective factual writing.  It seems a bit like a stream of consciousness and for me it made it difficult to read.  All in all the book was interesting, but difficult to read.

This book is from my personal library.

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