ALLIGATOR CANDY by David Kushner


A Memoir
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The story of how the author and his family dealt with the senseless murder of his older brother.

In 1973, 4-year-old Kushner (Journalism/Princeton Univ.; The Bones of Marianna: A Reform School, a Terrible Secret, and a Hundred-Year Fight for Justice, 2013, etc.), a contributing editor of Rolling Stone, was living with his parents and two brothers in a Tampa suburb where children roved freely and without fear. But then, Kushner’s 11-year-old brother Jon disappeared while on an errand to buy candy for his youngest brother. The family didn’t learn what happened until after police investigators found his brutalized body buried in a shallow grave. In thinking about the incident as an adult, Kushner realized that he barely remembered Jon and that the details others gave him about the death “didn’t stick.” However, it was clear to him even as a child that both his parents and his oldest brother, Andy, understood the horror of what had happened and grieved over the loss profoundly. Eventually, the family settled into an outwardly new, but inwardly damaged, normal while Kushner and Andy acclimated themselves to being two brothers instead of three. Yet the author and his family never forgot Jon, who haunted them all. More than 20 years after Jon’s murder, the family discovered that one of the men convicted of killing Jon was scheduled for a parole hearing. Kushner began an in-depth investigation of Jon’s murder, episodes of which he would not be able to piece together in narrative form after his father’s death in 2010. Much as the author desired closure, he realized it was a fantasy; what he sought instead was to understand how the grief he and his family suffered was “present and evolving” and how it had shaped them into the people they became. Kushner’s moving book is not only a memorial to a brother tragically deprived of his right to live; it is also a meditation on the courage necessary to live freely in a world riven by pain, suffering, and evil.

A probing, poignant memoir about tragedy, grief, and trying to cope.

Pub Date: March 15th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4516-8253-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2016


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