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History of a Suicide

Praise for History of a Suicide

“Eloquent, harrowing and wise, this memoir is brave and necessary, and a gift for anyone who has lost a friend or family member to suicide.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Moments of exquisite pain and surprising joy.”

O, The Oprah Magazine, 10 Titles to Pick Up Now

“She writes so gracefully and bravely that what you're left with in the end is an overwhelming sense of love. A

Entertainment Weekly, review and #8 on the Must List

“The Best Memoirs of life and tragedy teach us universal truths.”

Time Magazine

“...Extraordinarily valiant and resonant testimony to the healing powers of truth and empathy.”


“Brave and beautifully crafted.”

The Daily Beast

Elle Magazine, Elle Lettres Readers' Prize, February 2011

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“A profound and lyrical investigation.”


Publishers Weekly, Q&A, December 20, 2010

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“The writer is not simply in control of the words on the page but is in dear possession of the work, tending a poetic/narrative/intellectual valve for regulating intensity,”

The East Hampton Star

LA Times, feature, February 20, 2011

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“A poignant and resonant memoir,”


“Studded with Kimís writings and informed by the latest research, this memoir reads like butter and cuts like a knife.”

People Magazine, review, 4 stars

“A beautifully composed, deeply reflective work.”

Publishers Weekly

“In quietly piercing language, [Bialosky] delivers a sure sense of a “beautiful girl” who took her own life at age 21 and of what it means to grieve such a death, burdened with an awful sense of responsibility that can’t easily be shared with others.”

Library Journal

“This is the kind of book that can teach us—all of us—about what it means to be a thinking, feeling human being. A book, in other words, that will teach you how to live.”

—Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life

“The plain language of Bialosky’s title reflects this book’s quiet, intimate and profoundly understated art: a clear medium penetrating into the wounded and wounding mystery of her subject.”

—Robert Pinsky, former United States Poet Laureate

“That rare book that is so articulate and stunningly close to the bone that one holds one’s breath while reading it… Written with a poet’s eye and a novelist’s gift, History of a Suicide is remarkable for its author’s bravery, candor and ability to tolerate the intolerable.” —A.M. Homes, author of This Book Will Save Your Life

“Jill Bialosky has written an extraordinary book, which brings her sister Kim to life and also serves as a practical road map to understanding why life can become unbearable for someone who seems extravagantly gifted. Readers will find solace and clarity in this wonderful book.”

—Susan Cheever, author of Home Before Dark

“Beautiful and incredibly brave… Jill Bialosky has stared straight into the white hot heart of something very-nearly unspeakable and in doing so, has illuminated it—both for herself, and for ourselves. I can’t tell you how many times I caught my breath, how many times I cried.”

—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion

“Jill Bialosky is such a fearless and clear-eyed and compassionate writer that although we know from the start how the story she tells will turn out, we cannot stop reading. By bringing her sister so vividly to life on these pages, she performs a great service. As much as anything else I've read, this book dispels the comforting and pernicious myth by which we keep the subject at a distance: that suicide happens only in other people’s families.”

—George Howe Colt, author of November of the Soul

“Like a match in the darkness, Jill Bialosky’s stirring memoir sheds light on a fathomless mystery. This intimate, brave book is a testament to the redeeming power of love, memory, and art.”

—Melanie Thernstrom, author of The Pain Chronicles

“Could things have been different? That is the inevitable, haunting question after a suicide. It can never be answered, only explored; and Jill Bialosky explores it with intelligence, integrity, a poet’s sensitivity, and a sister’s enduring love.”

—Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index

“Better than anything on the shelf on the subject today, this powerful, honest, deeply personal testimony opens a conversation that is long overdue and restores the loving remembrance of those dead by their own hand to the place it deserves among the living. It honors a darling sister’s struggle and her memory at the same time it bears witness to the odyssey of grief Bialosky and her family endured. This willingness to play in the deep end of the existential pool is so rare a gift: that Bialosky juxtaposes the chronicle of Kim’s death with the challenges of becoming a mother is the stuff of metaphor and narrative we more often find in poetry. It is brave, ambitious and entirely accomplished.”

—Thomas Lynch, National Book Award finalist and author of The Undertaking

“By turns a mystery story, a psychological profile, a memoir, a literary and social critique, Bialosky writes about despair with such elegance and perspicacity that the reader, paradoxically, is returned to hope, page after gleaming page.”

—Lauren Slater, author of Prozac Diary