Book Review: A List Of Things That Didn't Kill Me by Jason Schmidt

A List Of Things That Didn't Kill Me
Author: Jason Schmidt
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Released: January 6 2015
Review Source: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

How does a good kid overcome a bad childhood? Jason Schmidt's searing debut memoir explores that question with unflinching clarity and wit, in the tradition of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle.

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?

A memoir of a child named Jason, whose life is never quite what he would expect it to be. From growing up around drugs, to always skipping school, and lastly having AIDs play a huge part in his life. You follow Jason through his childhood and read about some shocking stories that is difficult to believe happened to a child.

I'm not one for memoirs, and I found that out while reading this. But I couldn't stop reading it, I had to follow Jason. Had to know what was coming around the corner next. I realize that I grew up in a different time, so a lot of what happens to him at young ages are difficult for me to believe happened in the 80's but then I realize. I was a child in the 90's, not too much of a difference but I'm almost positive if someone from the 80's were to read this book they wouldn't be as shocked as I was. As well the issue of AIDs plays a big part on the story, and I almost wish there were more of it. I understand why there isn't too much talk of how Jason felt about AIDs or his internal conflicts with the disease, because that's how he dealt with it, but I feel that I would've handled it or been affected by it differently. Of course I would've expected a huge outrage to happen within Jason because AIDs in the late 80's was a disease that made you an outcast-but I guess Jason and his family and friends already were outcasts.  

While reading this book you feel as though you know Jason. There were a few times when I would cry for Jason, or be angry with Jason. It was weird for me to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster and realize that this had actually happened. Of course the book opens up with saying take stories told about people's lives with a grain of salt-people might make things worse than they are or better than they are. You never really know. But trusting that most of this book is true it hurts a little more than as if this were a fictional character that you were becoming attached to. Although I'm not one for reading memoirs I have to say that I was really glad that I read this memoir.

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