cover image History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life

History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life

Jill Bialosky, Atria, $24.95 (260p) ISBN 978-1-4391-0193-3

The early death of Bialosky's sister Kim, who took her own life at age 21 in 1990, shocked and changed her family forever. The "sorrow, shame, and incredulity" surrounding her death in Shaker Heights, Ohio, overwhelmed Bialosky, and only in the past few years has the author been able to fathom her sister's inner turmoil at the time of the suicide. Ten years older than Kim and by a different father, Bialosky was at the time newly married, pregnant with her first child, living in New York and embarking on a writing career; Kim, whose father had left their mother when she was three, had dropped out of high school and taken up with a drug dealer boyfriend who at least once beat her up. In the months preceding the suicide, Kim had been attending college courses and working as a waitress, yet she was towed under by crippling feelings of hopelessness compounded by the breakup with the boyfriend. The absence of Kim's father during her upbringing prompted her deep-seated sense of unworthiness, Bialosky concludes, while her mother, suffering lifelong depression and dependent on various drugs, required more care than she could give her daughter. In a beautifully composed, deeply reflective work, Bialosky, an editor at Norton, draws from literary and psychological examples to honor her sister through a thoroughly examined life. (Feb.)