By Rachel Winter
In Jill Bialosky’s newest book “History of a Suicide: My
Sister’s Unfinished Life,” she brings forth a true life story of
suicide and the things that follow the death of a loved one.
A memoir on not only her own life, Bialosky delves into the life
of her youngest sister, Kim, who commits suicide by asphyxiation at
the age of 21.
In her search for answers, Bialosky tells her own story while
telling Kim’s story through Kim’s eyes as well.
The book flows together nicely, making for an easy read.
It gives readers an inside look at not only how resilient and
strong human nature is, but also the fragility of humans as
With a topic that is generally swept under the rug, Bialosky
takes a sensitive look at suicide, as well as the grief and
questions that follow.
Bialosky uses poetry throughout the book to gain an
understanding of her sister’s untimely death.
By placing poems throughout the book, Bialosky illustrates her
feelings through an unusual, but useful, medium.
She also looks into and cites historical literature ranging from
the works of Shakespeare to classics such as “Moby Dick” to help
herself gain an understanding of suicide in history as well as the
Citing “Moby Dick” throughout the book, Bialosky talks about how
influential the book is to her and how she views her sister’s
Also Bialosky uses the characters in Shakespeare’s works as
examples to show that there are many reasons for one to commit
Not only citing literature, Bialosky uses research on
suicidology by suicide prevention pioneer Edwin Shneidman as well,
showing suicide does not always stem from depression.
Bialosky not only supports the works of Shneidman, but she has
come to the conclusion that his studies agree with her reasoning as
to why Kim could have committed suicide.
Bialosky believes Kim was never depressed.
Intertwining the literature and research with her childhood
memories, Bialosky writes about when her biological father died,
leaving her young mother with three daughters to care for and no
skills to take on or keep a decent job.
Bialosky’s mother ends up remarrying and becomes pregnant with
Although the marriage is dysfunctional, the birth of Kim brings
renewed hope to the family to make it work.
Kim’s father leaves anyway, and he divorces Bialosky’s
Bialosky switches the narrative between the time before and
after Kim’s death and tells more about Kim’s life after her father
stops coming around, including problems that Kim had with her first
Not only does Bialosky talk about the problems Kim may have
suffered from, but Bialosky gives readers a look at how some of the
same problems made her suffer as well.
Bialosky looks into how every aspect of our lives affects things
we do and think and feel, but also how it affects those closest to
us in the end.
Bialosky gives insight and understanding at what it means to
lose someone to suicide and the questions, grief, misunderstandings
and shame that come with it, making “History of a Suicide” a
Courtesy of Joanne Chan
An ‘unfinished life’ explored
My Sister’s Unfinished Life,’ she searches for answers in literature, research and her own experiences.
An ‘unfinished life’ explored
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