Jill Ciment weaves an unforgettable tale of survival, compassion, and courage, in this haunting recollection of a child surrounded by confusion and madness, and her struggle to find an identity.
Half a Life traces Jill Ciment's family from Toronto to the California desert—a landscape and culture so alien to her father that the last vestiges of sanity leave him. As madness engulfs him he becomes increasingly brutal and the family, grasping at survival, throws him out the door. Having no understanding that he has done anything wrong, he first lives in his car at the end of the driveway, waiting to be invited back in, before exiting completely from their lives.
Poor and fatherless, Ciment spends the years from age fourteen to seventeen, as a gang girl, a professional forger, a stripper, a corporate spy, and finally, a high school dropout who by age eighteen has seduced her art teacher, a man nearly three decades her senior and bluffed her way into college in an effort to shape a future.
Ciment is cutting, insightful and clearly unapologetic as she details the confusion and bravado of a child heroine whose dreams and tenacity allow her finally, to create the life she has been so desperately seeking.
In a starred review, PW called this memoir of a scrappy, fatherless childhood "honest and engaging."