The New York Times
Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicideby Linda Gray Sexton
After the agony of witnessing her mother's multipleand ultimately successfulsuicide attempts, Linda Gray Sexton, daughter of the acclaimed poet Anne Sexton, struggles with an engulfing undertow of depression. Here, with powerful, unsparing prose, Sexton conveys her urgent need to escape the legacy of suicide that consumed her familya topic rarely
After the agony of witnessing her mother's multipleand ultimately successfulsuicide attempts, Linda Gray Sexton, daughter of the acclaimed poet Anne Sexton, struggles with an engulfing undertow of depression. Here, with powerful, unsparing prose, Sexton conveys her urgent need to escape the legacy of suicide that consumed her familya topic rarely explored, even today, in such poignant depth.
Linda Gray Sexton tries multiple times to kill herselfeven though as a daughter, sister, wife, and most importantly, a mother, she knows the pain her act would cause. But unlike her mother's story, Linda’s is ultimately one of triumph. Through the help of family, therapy, and medicine, she confronts deep-seated issues and curbs the haunting cycle of suicide she once seemed destined to inherit.
The New York Times
Having affectingly grappled with the demons that led to her mother's suicide inSearching for Mercy Street(1994), Sexton takes on her own in this stinging chronicle of a road to three attempted suicides.
The author begins the story, and punctuates it throughout, by revisiting her mother's mental illness. Anne Sexton, the celebrated confessional poet, came from a long line of depressives. Though she may have passed a suicide gene along to her daughter, she also did much to nurture the urge, speaking to her of the voices in her head, accusing her daughter of being the one who made her sick and being altogether too confessional when it came to lovers and sex. So Sexton fille had plenty of fuel for her own depression, which was voracious and amplified by motherhood, a grim cocktail of loneliness, grief, despair, migraines, a bipolarism that swung between gloom and agitation (no euphoric highs here) and a terrible descent from mind pain to physical pain. Sexton is a dark wizard at describing her misery, which effectively turned her into a zombie, and the impulses that drove her to start cutting herself: "It's a way of letting the poison out. Taking control again...It makes the voice in my head shut up. To bleed is a way of knowing you're alive." The author provokes both scorn and sympathy, and she ably captures both the corrosive emotional storm in her head and the exhausted wariness she produces in others. Only occasionally does she overwrite—"I was ready to make music with the keyboard of my wrist"—and lose the scouring immediacy of her condition, when "[s]uicide simply came up from behind and took me in a bear hug" and she became "a mother who, as her own mother before her, had lost her grip on love."
An elucidating, caustic engagement with the author's depression.
- Counterpoint Press
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- 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
Linda Gray Sexton is the daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Anne Sexton. She has written four novels, and her first memoir Searching for Mercy Street was published to critical acclaim.
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Linda Gray Sexton's struggle with her family legacy of depression and suicide has been no walk in the park. The daughter of poet Anne Sexton, Linda approaches this subject with bravery and grace. In her earlier memoir, "Searching for Mercy Street", she wrote of her relationship with her mother, whose successful suicide she hoped never to emulate. "Half in Love" traces her subsequent journey including several unsuccessful suicide attempts and the work it took to for her to return from these episodes and reconnect with her world and family. The author risks taking us deep into her thinking as a person wrestling with being bi-polar. She portrays suicide's seductive nature. She explains cutting in a way that makes a certain sense. Her subtle depiction of learning to feel is equally profound as her health improves. Half in Love is a brave, difficult book by a terrific writer. By honestly confronting her illness and the family members who have been hurt by it, Linda Gray Sexton saves her life. By sharing her experience, she offers readers the same opportunity.