Four men who lost parents to suicide strengthen their bonds of friendship in this memoir.
In this candid look at suicide—which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States—debut author Knapp and Pincus (Reel Baseball, 2003) focus on the emotional aftermath for those who are left behind. In 1966, the authors met during their senior year in a Maryland high school and, much to their surprise, soon found out their lives shared a striking similarity—their mothers had both killed themselves a few years earlier. Over time, the two young men began to have heart-to-heart conversations about their grief. As the years progressed, they discovered they had two other friends, Tom and Dennis, affected by the suicide of a parent. Sometimes deep and sometimes chatty, this heartfelt memoir begins with conversations between Knapp and Pincus. Later, the work includes email exchanges involving all four friends. Bouncing between different time periods and settings—high school in 1966, a bench beside a Cleveland Jewish synagogue in the mid-’90s, a baseball road trip in 1999, a popular Chicago restaurant in 2009—the book realistically portrays these four baby boomers and self-described “sons of suicide” as they grappled with difficult questions, such as whether or not forgiveness for the act is truly possible. Pincus wondered whether his mother thought about him moments before she killed herself. Though the topic is dark, the tone is upbeat—with some joking between old friends—as the men discuss how fortunate they are to currently have wonderful families and friendships. The authors’ language is sometimes memorably expressive. For example, when recalling his mother’s death, Knapp notes: “Some images are etched deep in the mind with acid so caustic that they are always there, deeply imbedded yet near the surface at the same time.” Seeking answers but not pretending to have them, this cleareyed account—a potential comfort to others who have suffered similar losses—can also help educate the public about suicide prevention.
Insightful and moving conversations about suicide and grief.