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After the Eclipse: A Mother's Murder, a Daughter's Search

by Sarah Perry

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1786110,511 (4.16)None
"Stunning."--Entertainment Weekly "Raw and perfect."--Laura Miller,Slate "Heartbreaking yet hopeful."--Samantha Irby,Marie Claire "[Perry] is a wonderful writer...Beauty and tenderness rise up through the darkness...[She] succeeds in restoring her mother's humanity, and her own."--Bliss Broyard,The New York TimesBook Review A fierce memoir of a mother's murder, a daughter's coming-of-age in the wake of immense loss, and her mission to know the woman who gave her life. When Sarah Perry was twelve, she saw a partial eclipse of the sun, an event she took as a sign of good fortune for her and her mother, Crystal. But that brief moment of darkness ultimately foreshadowed a much larger one: two days later, Crystal was murdered in their home in rural Maine, just a few feet from Sarah's bedroom.   The killer escaped unseen; it would take the police twelve years to find him, time in which Sarah grew into adulthood, struggling with abandonment, police interrogations, and the effort of rebuilding her life when so much had been lost. Through it all she would dream of the eventual trial, a conviction--all her questions finally answered. But after the trial, Sarah's questions only grew. She wanted to understand her mother's life, not just her final hours, and so she began a personal investigation, one that drew her back to Maine, taking her deep into the abiding darkness of a small American town.   Told in searing prose,After the Eclipse is a luminous memoir of uncomfortable truth and terrible beauty, an exquisite memorial for a mother stolen from her daughter, and a blazingly successful attempt to cast light on her life once more.  … (more)

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What struck me most about this moving memoir was the way the author so deftly showed the reader how others responded to her, how it made her feel, and how she understood their perspectives. When she felt like an outcast, I felt that way, too. I hadn't thought about how other kids at a school might say "That's weird" about another kid's mom being killed, or that a friend in New York, removed from any violence in her own life, might imply that her mother was killed because she was promiscuous. She showed us a side of a murder that was both upsetting and uncomfortable in a way I hadn't seen in a memoir like this before. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
Equal parts true crime and gripping memoir. I had a really hard time putting this book down. Sarah Perry was 12 years old when she awoke in the middle of the night to the sounds of he mother being viciously murdered in the next room. This well-written book is the story of her mom, their lives together, the crime, and the aftermath. I loved her voice and her message. Very powerful. ( )
  sprainedbrain | Dec 1, 2018 |
Wow. This is a powerful book.

In 1994, Sarah Perry’s mother, Crystal, was murdered in their home while Sarah was only a room away. It was a brutality I can’t even fathom. 12-year-old Sarah was thrust into a world of fear, abandonment, and unspeakable grief.

More than a recounting of events, Sarah gives the reader the complete atmosphere of growing up in rural Maine, and the people of the small town of Bridgton that made up her world. She delves into the person her mother was, and what made her who she was. This memoir is an attempt to know her mother, from the perspective of a grown woman cognizant of her mother’s life choices, her anguish over on-again, off-again relationships, and her love for her daughter. This story is also Sarah’s journey to discover herself, as she was as a 12-year-old girl enduring unbelievable tragedy, and now as an adult understanding the whole picture of Crystal Perry as a person.

So many adults in Sarah’s life tried to help her cope with this horrible “thing that happened,” but many were misguided in their kindness, or too blind with grief to offer anything of value. The fear that still resides in Sarah is palpable. It’s easy, as a reader, to think “this is an event that happened, once, a long time ago,” but for Sarah, it’s every day of her life, and she brings that idea to the forefront. Her memoir is courageous, it’s honest, and never indulges in self-pity.

I appreciated Sarah’s candor. She acknowledges her faults, the mistakes all of us make as adolescents. She allows herself room to ask questions, to wonder about her mother’s motivations, the relationships she maintained with men and with her friends. She wonders about the fallacy of memory and about the unreliability of what you think you know about those close to you. The research is impeccable. Sarah refers to police transcripts, interviews, and personal remembrances, but this never reads like a sterile report; it’s like sitting with your best friend and listening to her tell you her story.

I dropped everything else I was reading when I started reading After the Eclipse. It was compelling and at the same time humbling. Sarah’s foray into her past took unbelievable courage, and this memoir is a testament to her strength. The kind of strength, I’m sure, she got from her mother.


Many thanks to Sarah Perry for the advance copy.
This review is also posted on my blog at flyleafunfurled.com. ( )
  ErickaS | May 2, 2018 |
This memoir told by Sarah Perry of her mother's murder, while Sarah was a 12 year old hiding in her bedroom but aware of what was being done to her mother is the kitchen, is really unfathomable. It is remarkable that Sarah grew to be 30 years old (the age of her mother when she died), at the time of the trial, having survived the ordeal and its' aftermath. Sarah's father was out of the picture so it was her mother's dysfunction family left to raise her. She was shuttled from one aunt to another for the most part and her internal struggles are heartbreaking. I think she is courageous for letting us into her world and the police investigation that ensued, culminating in the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. I had a lot of unanswered questions at the end; but realize that Sarah has the same questions. The reader is not satisfied at the end but the journey, as told through Sarah's eyes and heart and soul, is worth the read. ( )
  bogopea | Feb 4, 2018 |
In her memories of life both before and after the brutal murder of her mother, Sarah Perry recounts the harrowing details of her dysfunctional family history, the long search to bring her mother's killer to justice and the loving bond she shared only with her mother. This is an absolutely riveting account of the strength it took for her to survive the loss of her mother. ( )
  pdebolt | Dec 17, 2017 |
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