Email this review


 An unsatisfying account by psychiatrist Chance of her six-year process of coming to terms with the suicide of her only son, Jim, in his early 20s. Chance was raised in western Texas as the daughter of an unhappily married, strongly dogmatic Baptist couple from whom she fled into marriage at age 15, giving birth to Jim at age 17. Divorced, she went to medical school when Jim was in high school, and later trained at the Menninger Clinic to become a psychiatrist. Jim began to live with Chance's parents at this time, and continued to do so even after she had finished her schooling, remarried, and set up practice in a Texas town 400 miles away from her hometown. Then Jim unexpectedly shot himself, leaving behind a despondent note that blamed no one but himself. Here, through journal entries, excerpts from a column she writes for a psychiatric magazine, and fragments of speeches she has given at meetings of suicide survivors, the author describes her anguish and self-blame, and the little and big things she found that helped her with her grief. Perhaps other suicide survivors will find solace in her experience, but others may wish for less inwardness, less tight authorial control of the information meted out, and more details about Chance's life and her relationship with her son--both of which, from the few glimpses she gives, seem unusual and interesting. The text leaves unanswered questions: Why did Jim live with Chance's parents for so long when clearly it was not a happy or healthy situation? Why did he and Chance maintain such a distance from each other despite their obvious mutual love? Perhaps these particulars would not give any clearer understanding of the reasons for this tragedy--impossible with any suicide, Chance asserts. But they would help the reader to feel it more.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-393-03092-X
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1992