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Alligator Candy: A Memoir
by David Kushner
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A cross between a memoir and a true crime story, David relates the story of his brother, Jonathan Kushner, who was a murder victim at the age of 11. Interestingly, he shows the murder through his own eyes at various ages . . .he was only four when his brother died. As an adult, he fully investigated the story, and the end of the book fills in all the specifics. The book is well written, and David tries to build suspense by only delving out the crime details in small amounts throughout the book, but somehow it lacked emotion for me. The author tells how he feels, but somehow the emotional depth isn't conveyed to the reader. At least it wasn't for me. ( )
Once I got into it I found it hard to put down. The author took his time getting to the details of what happened to his 11-yo brother.
(23) Oh dear. This hit me where it hurt. The author is a journalist who grew up in Tampa, Florida in the 1970's with academic parents that let them roam free - biking, roaming the woods, unscheduled time - way before cell-phones and play-dates. Much like my childhood. But the worst nightmare came true when his 11 yo older brother was abducted and murdered coming home from the neighborhood 7/11. This is the authors memoir about living through that as a 4 year old and trying to recapture memories of his beloved brother. How his family dealt with the unimaginable horror and loss. His quest to know his brother, the killers, the whole gruesome story more completely as he matured and had his own children. It was absolutely heartbreaking as a mother of 12 year old boys. Absolutely soul-destroying.
As I was reading I kept saying -- shut the book; put it away; you don't have to finish this. But I did. It was almost a Buddhist instinct to hold the most painful thing imaginable close to my heart and imaging it happening, wallow in it, and then try to let it go. The beginning of the book with the recounting of the tragedy as David remembered it and his hazy recollections and childhood freeze-frames of Jonathan were lovely. But the last 1/3rd of the book, I felt stylistically were a miss. Very repetitive and inelegant. But by that point I was emotionally hooked and both could not read on, nor put down. I could not get over the narration of looking through photo albums leading up to Jon's murder and scrutinizing his expressions - did he know? did he have a premonition? ... Just haunting for me to the point where I have to stop my mind from going there.
So kudos for the power of this gripping memoir about horror, yet resilience in the face of tragedy. I liked that it presented a way of envisioning a life after death that was not hokey nor religious, but contemplative: full of doubt and meaning. I decided I really liked this author personally in so much as one can through a book. Again - the wheels came off at the last several parts, so impossible for me to truly rate commensurate with the 10-star emotional impact. From a generation and current life circumstance standpoint - this resonated. This is the second memoir from an author who grew up middle class/working class in 1970's suburbia much like myself that I really enjoyed ('Hollywood Park' but Mickel Jollett being the other excellent book.) Another recently read memoir that rocked me like this one: 'Wave' by Sonali Deraniyagala. Both excellent reads.
Alligator Candy is about the disappearance and murder of author David Kushner’s brother in 1973 and I think I was simply not in the mood for such a grim book. The author was only 4 years old at the time of his brother’s murder and a good portion of the book is how he, at age four, perceived what was happening to his family. As he got older, he did put the pieces together by reading newspaper accounts and talking to other people, but really, it was a senseless, horrible crime for which there could be no explanation.
I found this a harrowing memoir about a very dark time that this family endured. The story itself was rather repetitive as the event is gone over multiple times although from slightly different angles. I was also taken aback at the overwhelming guilt that the author carried most of his life because he wondered if his brother was only at that place, at that time, because he had asked him to bring home some special candy.
Although Alligator Candy did not particularly enlighten or inform me, I sincerely hope that the author found some peace from writing this memoir and reconnecting with his grief. It was quite obvious that he was trying to lay his fears to rest and close this chapter in his life as he has now become the father of young children himself.
A sad memoir about the death of an older brother, tragically murdered when the brother was just 11. Alligator Candy deals with the grief of a tragedy, as well as how you cope with the day to day life following the tragedy. David Kushner's parents deal amazingly well with the tragedy, while it affects them, they are still able to find joy in life. David and his older brother, Andy, experience the loss of their brother, Jon, in varying ways. This is a story of remembering and holding onto their brother. It is also a story of overwhelming grief. It is the story of how innocence and freedom have become missing in the youth of our world today because we are terrified of what could happen. It is the story of two brutal men who shattered this innocence. While I thought most of the book was poignant, I also thought there were times when the writing seemed strained and dragged along. I can't imagine the horror and sadness of this family, having lived through the tragedy, but I believe that their family was amazingly resilient at how they went on with their lives, while never forgetting Jon and all the people that came together to aid their family.
From award-winning journalist David Kushner, a regular contributor to Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and other premier magazines, Alligator Candy is a reported memoir about family, survival, and the unwavering power of love. David Kushner grew up in the early 1970s in the Florida suburbs. It was when kids still ran free, riding bikes and disappearing into the nearby woods for hours at a time. One morning in 1973, however, everything changed. David's older brother Jon biked through the forest to the convenience store for candy, and never returned. Every life has a defining moment, a single act that charts the course we take and determines who we become. For Kushner, it was Jon's disappearance-a tragedy that shocked his family and the community at large. Decades later, now a grown man with kids of his own, Kushner found himself unsatisfied with his own memories and decided to revisit the episode a different way: through the eyes of a reporter. His investigation brought him back to the places and people he once knew and slowly made him realize just how much his past had affected his present. After sifting through hundreds of documents and reports, conducting dozens of interviews, and poring over numerous firsthand accounts, he has produced a powerful and inspiring story of loss, perseverance, and memory. Alligator Candy is searing and unforgettable.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)362.88 — Social sciences Social problems and services; associations Social problems of & services to groups of people Problems of and services to other groups People affected by criminal acts
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