Cover image for A list of things that didn't kill me : a memoir
Title:
A list of things that didn't kill me : a memoir
Author:
Schmidt, Jason, 1972- , author.
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015.
Physical Description:
viii, 421 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Jason Schmidt wasn't surprised when he came home one day during his junior year of high school and found his father, Mark, crawling around in a giant pool of blood. Things like that had been happening a lot since Mark had been diagnosed with HIV, three years earlier. Jason's life with Mark was full of secrets--about drugs, crime, and sex. If the straights--people with normal lives--ever found out any of those secrets, the police would come. Jason's home would be torn apart. So the rule, since Jason had been in preschool, was never to tell the straights anything. A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me is a funny, disturbing memoir full of brutal insights and unexpected wit that explores the question: How do you find your moral center in a world that doesn't seem to have one?
Language:
English
Reading Level:
890 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780374380137
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
HV697 .S347 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Searching...
Searching...
HV697 .S347 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Searching...
Searching...
HV697 .S347 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Searching...
Searching...
HV697 .S347 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
HV697 .S347 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
HV697 .S347 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

Jason Schmidt wasn't surprised when he came home one day during his junior year of high school and found his father, Mark, crawling around in a giant pool of blood. Things like that had been happening a lot since Mark had been diagnosed with HIV, three years earlier.
Jason's life with Mark was full of secrets--about drugs, crime, and sex. If the straights--people with normal lives--ever found out any of those secrets, the police would come. Jason's home would be torn apart. So the rule, since Jason had been in preschool, was never to tell the straights anything.

A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me is a funny, disturbing memoir full of brutal insights and unexpected wit that explores the question: How do you find your moral center in a world that doesn't seem to have one?


Author Notes

Jason Schmidt was born in Oregon in 1972. He has a law degree, and he lives with his family in Seattle, Washington.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

I lived my life in pieces. That's a tidy encapsulation of Schmidt's tormented upbringing, the focus of his devastating memoir. Raised by his drug-dealing, ex-con father, Schmidt lived around the Pacific Northwest throughout the grim 1980s among strung-out squatters in decrepit homes (and even, once, a storage unit). The litany of physical and emotional abuse Schmidt endures is unbelievably staggering: His father beats and berates him. He is sexually preyed upon by a school principal. He is socially isolated as he and his dad nomadically relocate. Poor, dirty, and perpetually unsupervised, Schmidt threatens to run away, only to have his father threaten to have him committed. And when his dad contracts AIDS, Schmidt has to begin envisioning an entirely new future alone one he must forge with limited guidance and a lifetime of scars. This title joins the ranks of harrowing true stories such as Dave Pelzer's A Child Called It (1993), Augusten Burrough's Running with Scissors (2002), and other compelling accounts of childhood despair that are painful to read and impossible to put down.--Walters Wright, Lexi Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Schmidt's memoir-which spans his childhood to late adolescence and chronicles his abuse and near homelessness at the hands of his drug-addicted gay father-is an emotionally demanding read. The memoir finds its strongest foothold in the primary relationship between father and son, particularly the wrenching scenes of Schmidt's father's rage and misguided devotion, packed between descriptions of a 1970s and '80s West Coast counterculture childhood. As the author grows and begins to connect his own abusive actions and self-neglect to his childhood, the main relationship becomes buried in a jarring deflection of his father's death from AIDS, the sudden adoption of a friendly volunteer as guardian, and overwrought details of his own burgeoning dating life, infused with Star Wars references (before his first kiss, Schmidt writes, "The best model I had for this kind of thing was Princess Leia and Han Solo at the end of The Empire Strikes Back"). If the turnaround moment for a teenage Schmidt arrives too late in the book to have the impact it might, the heavy burden of his early life is keenly felt. Ages 12-up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-In this disturbing, heartbreaking, and inspiring memoir, Schmidt provides an account of an unstable childhood and adolescence. The prologue begins with Schmidt at age 16, coming home to discover his father crawling around the floor, covered in blood. The author then pulls back, describing his early years. After Schmidt's parents separated, his father, Mark, took custody of him. The two moved from one decrepit home to the next in Seattle, as Mark abused and sold drugs, barely earning a living. Schmidt's voice will resonate with teens as he writes candidly about his father's negligence and abuse, adeptly capturing what it was like to grow up impoverished, the hostility he encountered at school, the injuries and illnesses he endured, his difficulty finding and keeping friends, and the challenges of adjusting to his gay father's unstable romantic and sexual life. As Schmidt grew older, he believed more and more that he and Mark could never become "straights," or normal people. When the author reached adolescence, during the early 1980s, Mark and many of his friends were diagnosed with AIDS. It was a period when many gay men were dying, when those with HIV faced stigma, and when the effectiveness of medical treatment was minimal. Once realizing his father's fate, Schmidt feared what the future had in store but was inspired to take control of his life. VERDICT This unflinchingly honest work is a strong choice for readers who appreciate unfiltered stories, can stomach gruesome details, or aspire to work in social services.-Jess Gafkowitz, New York Public Library © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.