Monday, February 14, 2011

Half in Love by Linda Gray Sexton (review #112)

Half in Love (Surviving the legacy of suicide) by Linda Gray Sexton
Genre: Memoir
Review Copy

I've recently discussed the difficulty in reviewing memoirs with a few other bloggers. Some are hesitant with reviewing them because they feel they don't want to "review" someone else's life. My opinion is you don't review or analyze the book itself, you simply discuss how their life and story affected you. You don't judge, you don't criticize.

When you get a powerful memoir like Half in Love, you walk away extremely affected.

I have to say honestly I need to take a break for atleast a few months from books involving mothers, daughters, depression and suicide. I'm spent.

Here is a brief description of Half in Love from TLC Book Tours website.

Despite experiencing the agony of witnessing her mother’s multiple suicide attempts, the last of which was successful, Linda Gray Sexton found herself gripped by the same strong tentacles of mental anguish. Falling into the familiar grooves of her mother’s relentless depression, Sexton tries once, twice, three times to kill herself—even though she is a daughter, sister, wife, and most importantly, a mother.

Sexton unsparingly describes her struggle to escape the magnetism of her mother and the undertow of depression that engulfed her life. Her powerful prose drags readers into her imperviously dark mental state. It conveys her urgent need to alleviate the internal pain, a need that becomes compulsive and considers no one.

But unlike her mother, hers is a story of triumph. Through the help of family, therapy, and medicine, Sexton confronted deep-seated issues, outlived her mother, and curbed the haunting cycle of suicide she once seemed destined to inherit.

I had never read any poetry by Anne Sexton or knew much about her life and death. It was eye opening to read about her own mental anguish and depression combined with the genius of her literary life. How does depression and madness affect your family? Obviously for Linda Gray Sexton it was her whole life. From her early memories of admiring and wanting to be it all for her mother to her own issues with overcoming depression.

Though incredibly raw and vivid and undeniably hard to read at times, Linda's memoir flowed very beautifully in its heartbreak and madness. She managed to be brutally honest without it sounding forced. It was as if she came to a place in her life where it was time to let it all out, no holds barred.

The memoir is broken up into parts, starting with a lot of her childhood back and forth and surviving her mother's suicide and forging on with her young adult life. Then it progresses into her own adulthood; marrying her husband, having her two children, starting her writing career as a novelist. The middle parts of heavy on her depression and her own suicide attempts and then the eventual demise of her first marriage. It does not wrap with happy endings but it does end up with hope, which in turn is that title of the last chapter. New marriage, better awareness of her demons,and optimism for the future.

The parts that struck me the most were during her early years in her first marriage to Jim. The affects of having children and the emotional roller coaster that comes with it. I certainly identified with that. Her desire was to be a good mom but she still had the impact of her own mother hanging over her.

Rating: 4/6
It was a well written, honest memoir of her life. It was intense, brutal and sad. If you are not in the mood for a heavy book, this would not be for you. But those of us who have suffered from depression in any way shape or form could certainly identify and learn from her journey.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour. Click to find out more about the author and the remaining stops along the tour.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Tales of Whimsy said...

That was great! Bravo bravo! I enjoyed reading this and based on your review, this sounds way to sad for me. Great post!

Marce said...

That sounds like an amazing memoir. I am reading memoir, My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor right now.

Gina said...

Ah yes...I can ssee how you would be spent. Memoirs have a tendency to do that but ones that deal in such powerful subjects as affecting but also draining if done too frequently. A break is definitely in the works. Great job on the review. Very moving.

LisaMM said...

Excellent review! It really sounds intense but hopeful, too. Thanks so much for being on the tour, Michelle!

Helen Ginger said...

It sounds like a very powerful book. I don't know if I'll read it, though I really value your view of it.