After the Eclipse
"Stunning." — Entertainment Weekly  | "Raw and perfect." —Laura Miller, Slate"Heartbreaking yet hopeful." —Samantha Irby, Marie Claire 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.

After the Eclipse Details

TitleAfter the Eclipse
Author
ReleaseSep 26th, 2017
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139780544302655
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Crime, True Crime, Mystery

After the Eclipse Review

  • Ericka Seidemann
    January 1, 1970
    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 wh 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.
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  • Preston Witt
    January 1, 1970
    (I have a review copy.) I figured After the Eclipse was going to be heartbreaking, but I couldn't possibly have known it was going to be this good, this devastating, and this important. The whole world feels a little different. I'm stunned. It's (alarmingly) rare for someone to have something new to say. It's even rarer for a writer to be at the right time and place for that story to have a real impact. But this tender and insightful memoir has the chance to actually change the way we think abou (I have a review copy.) I figured After the Eclipse was going to be heartbreaking, but I couldn't possibly have known it was going to be this good, this devastating, and this important. The whole world feels a little different. I'm stunned. It's (alarmingly) rare for someone to have something new to say. It's even rarer for a writer to be at the right time and place for that story to have a real impact. But this tender and insightful memoir has the chance to actually change the way we think about violence and class and the American soul. Weaker writers lash out occasionally when they can--to make a point, when they lose control of their material, when they want an easy way to appear strong and clever. This book never does that, not even once. Bitterness, hate, fear--despite the worst of human beings, somehow it doesn't prevail, not here. It's no small miracle that every page of this tragedy is awash in tenderness, that Perry maintains complete command over a series of impossibly slippery, chaotic, and horrifying events. But Perry. Is. A. Master. After the Eclipse has made me simultaneously so sad for the world and yet so hopeful that the right books by the right people can actually make a difference in reshaping us into softer, more human forms. Evidence for this is that I am profoundly uninterested in ever reading another piece of crime fiction or true crime. Read this book and you will cry, you will never look at America the same way again, you will be angry, but in a deep, knowable way you will be better. My heart is bigger now. Big enough to say f*ck Truman Capote: down with exploitative true crime, and up with Sarah Perry.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    An extremely compelling book of memoir and crime writing. Sarah Perry confronts a lot in this book - institutionalized sexism and misogyny, family violence, domestic abuse, gender roles, trauma - and has created a complete work that brings her mother’s life and her own life into parallel and contrasting narratives. At the same time, there is no sensationalism. Although the catalyst for the work was the trial of her mother’s murderer, Perry uses the information she has gathered to better understa An extremely compelling book of memoir and crime writing. Sarah Perry confronts a lot in this book - institutionalized sexism and misogyny, family violence, domestic abuse, gender roles, trauma - and has created a complete work that brings her mother’s life and her own life into parallel and contrasting narratives. At the same time, there is no sensationalism. Although the catalyst for the work was the trial of her mother’s murderer, Perry uses the information she has gathered to better understand the parent she was denied the opportunity of knowing in life.
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  • Jamie Canaves
    January 1, 1970
    Another Great, Yet Heartbreaking, Memoir True Crime: (Trigger Warning: Rape/ Suicidal Thoughts)While I can’t imagine how they find the strength to write about the tragedies that altered their lives, I find I prefer the true crime memoirs written by survivors or relatives over true crime written by strangers gazing in. They tend to focus more on the actual humans affected over the actual crime and perpetrator, reminding us that people are more than the tragedy. In After the Eclipse Sarah Perry no Another Great, Yet Heartbreaking, Memoir True Crime: (Trigger Warning: Rape/ Suicidal Thoughts)While I can’t imagine how they find the strength to write about the tragedies that altered their lives, I find I prefer the true crime memoirs written by survivors or relatives over true crime written by strangers gazing in. They tend to focus more on the actual humans affected over the actual crime and perpetrator, reminding us that people are more than the tragedy. In After the Eclipse Sarah Perry not only recounts the night her mother was murdered in the room next to hers when she was twelve, but also her mother Crystal’s life. The book is written in chapters that alternate between Crystal’s life before and up to her murder, and Sarah’s life after her mother’s murder. Then in 2005, years after the crime, Sarah gets the call that they solved the crime and the book ends with Sarah’s experience with the trial and finally speaking to Crystal’s family and friends about the past. It’s heartbreaking to not only see Crystal’s young life cut short and the effect on her daughter, but also Sarah’s struggle afterwards being passed around homes and the police never quite believing her that she didn’t know who murdered her mother. Sarah’s look at how slut shaming, sexism, and misogyny puts women’s lives in danger makes this an especially worthwhile read.--from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: True Crime Memoirs, Miss Fisher's Movie Gets Pushback, and Morehttp://link.bookriot.com/view/56a8200...
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  • Amy Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Beautifully candid and courageous this was a very emotional read. At 12 years old Sarah is plunged into a living nightmare when her mother is murdered and it is 12 long years before the killer is finally caught. My heart hurt for this poor child to lose her mother and to have a family who couldn't look past their own pain enough to care for her the way they should have in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. I received a free copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Beautifully candid and courageous this was a very emotional read. At 12 years old Sarah is plunged into a living nightmare when her mother is murdered and it is 12 long years before the killer is finally caught. My heart hurt for this poor child to lose her mother and to have a family who couldn't look past their own pain enough to care for her the way they should have in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. Sarah Perry has written a wonderful tribute to her mother's life.
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  • SundayAtDusk
    January 1, 1970
    In After The Eclipse, Sarah Perry does a phenomenal job telling the story of her mother Crystal’s life and death, as well as the story of her own life before and after her mother was raped and murdered. The way she weaves the past and present together, as well as provides both facts and insightful observations, is truly outstanding. The fact the story takes place in a small town in Maine was interesting, too, since stories like Ms. Perry’s usually seem to come from down South, instead of up Nort In After The Eclipse, Sarah Perry does a phenomenal job telling the story of her mother Crystal’s life and death, as well as the story of her own life before and after her mother was raped and murdered. The way she weaves the past and present together, as well as provides both facts and insightful observations, is truly outstanding. The fact the story takes place in a small town in Maine was interesting, too, since stories like Ms. Perry’s usually seem to come from down South, instead of up North. While the memoir would fit the true crime category, it’s much more than a crime story. It’s a memoir about what it’s like to be a 12-year-old who hears her mother being murdered, but is too terrified to go help her; who ends up being accused of things, including by the police, that weren’t true; and who finds herself being basically unwanted by anyone else in her large extended family.The author’s portrait of her extended family is far from flattering, too. One wonders how they will feel about this book. In addition, the author’s portrait of men is extremely negative. The majority of men in this memoir have something wrong with them. At least, though, Sarah Perry is very honest at one point about how her childhood affected her views on men. That’s not always the case in contemporary memoirs. Many memoirs have been published by those who seem convinced their childhood experiences, regardless of how terrible or strange, have absolutely nothing to do with how they view the opposite sex as adults. Ms. Perry obviously knows her childhood experiences deeply affected her life as an adult, including how she feels about men.Violence against women is a theme repeatedly tackled by the author. She clearly shows how children who grow up in violent homes often accept that physical or verbal violence is normal; and sometimes grow up to be violent themselves, or victims of repeated acts of violence. When Sarah Perry is questioned as a child about the possibility her mother’s fiancé was the killer, she said he wasn’t a violent man, even though he did extreme damage to her mother’s home when he was angry. She even laughed about the damage he did, and said his relationship with her mother was a “normal” adult relationship. Plus, as a child, Ms. Perry appeared to see it as normal that she knew so much about her mother's sex life; even commenting on it in her diary, as if she was just commenting about the weather or something.Along with physical violence, verbal violence is also rampant in the story, both by men and women. Moreover, a notch below that are all the nasty thoughts and feelings expressed by others about the murder; including the ideas that Crystal Perry was responsible for her own death, due to her behavior; or that Sarah Perry may have been trying to protect the killer, because she liked him; or that she was possibly even involved in a plot to kill her own mother. Bad things can lead to good things, however, and this memoir is about as good as memoir writing gets. The only time the author seemed to be going a bit off the rail was towards the end of the book, when she speculated her mother might have had a physical relationship with her best female friend. This was just a hunch that the author had, but there was no proof of such a thing, and only brought up an incident that would be viewed negatively by most readers or followers of the crime. Why did Ms. Perry include that incident and start speculating in that direction? Was she hoping if her mother was alive today she would not disapprove of her daughter’s lifestyle? Was she thinking if her mother had liked women, instead of men, she would have had a much happier personal life, and would not have been killed? (Unfortunately, dead people have no privacy rights, particularly those individuals who were murdered.)Regardless if her mother liked or hated men, she appeared to believe she could not or should not ever be without one; something she erroneously internalized as a child. Her vision of a fulfilling adult life was still obviously obscured by her childhood. Sadly for both mother and daughter, Crystal Perry was murdered before she could fully clear her vision of those childhood obstructions.(Note: I received a free ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)
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  • Chantelle Dixon
    January 1, 1970
    I received an early copy of this manuscript. This book is just incredible. It's a true crime mystery without any sensationalism. It's a memoir about a woman whose mother was murdered at 30, while she was in another room of the house, and how that event shaped the author's life. She was orphaned at 12, and didn't find out who killed her mother for 12 more years. But at it's core, it's about family, and identity. It's a memoir about figuring out who you are in the wake of devastating grief without I received an early copy of this manuscript. This book is just incredible. It's a true crime mystery without any sensationalism. It's a memoir about a woman whose mother was murdered at 30, while she was in another room of the house, and how that event shaped the author's life. She was orphaned at 12, and didn't find out who killed her mother for 12 more years. But at it's core, it's about family, and identity. It's a memoir about figuring out who you are in the wake of devastating grief without the one person who's been there your whole life; it's about understanding who your mother was as a woman, not just a mother; it's about the people who come and go in your life, and who you do or don't trust, and who remains; it's about how, for better or worse, family helps define who you are.The writing itself is gorgeous. That the events in this book actually happened is heartbreaking, and Perry's account of it is powerful.The storyline not only relies on the author's memory, but on interviews with family and friends, research, and police documentation. She often says throughout the piece that this is *her* truth, and will explain when other people have remembered slightly differently than her.
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  • Evangeline White
    January 1, 1970
    (I read an advance copy). Don't be put off by the dark subject matter. Perry has taken a story that would have been an unmitigated tragedy in other hands and infused it with warmth, light, and humanity. It’s a story about people, about the challenges and hard-won victories of the working poor, about the decisions strong women make under the most unsympathetic circumstances, and the way family ties break down and rebuild in the aftermath of a tragedy. Perry is both clear-eyed but compassionate to (I read an advance copy). Don't be put off by the dark subject matter. Perry has taken a story that would have been an unmitigated tragedy in other hands and infused it with warmth, light, and humanity. It’s a story about people, about the challenges and hard-won victories of the working poor, about the decisions strong women make under the most unsympathetic circumstances, and the way family ties break down and rebuild in the aftermath of a tragedy. Perry is both clear-eyed but compassionate toward the people in her book, especially the men who passed in and out of her and her mother’s life. I’m stunned at how an author who has lived through such darkness has managed to write with such generosity toward so many. Like Perry, I grew up poor, in rural Maine. It’s a place I worked hard to escape. And yet this book filled me with aching homesickness for both the people and landscape of my childhood. Read this exceptional book. It’s timely. It’s wonderful.
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  • Carrie Pate
    January 1, 1970
    Sarah’s memoir is a very real portrayal of her life before and after losing her mother to a senseless rape and murder. She does not spare any details or sugarcoat the realities of her experiences. Sarah draws you into her childhood and gives you the opportunity to meet her mother Crystal through her meticulous descriptions of their lives and the events leading up to Crystal’s death. She does a remarkable job of describing her past and making you feel like you are right there in small town Maine Sarah’s memoir is a very real portrayal of her life before and after losing her mother to a senseless rape and murder. She does not spare any details or sugarcoat the realities of her experiences. Sarah draws you into her childhood and gives you the opportunity to meet her mother Crystal through her meticulous descriptions of their lives and the events leading up to Crystal’s death. She does a remarkable job of describing her past and making you feel like you are right there in small town Maine fishing in the lakes and driving on the back roads. Sarah is candid about her family and how she dealt with grief at such a young age. Her story makes you realize that this horrific event could happen to anyone and it is no wonder why she has trouble sleeping at night. This is an emotional read that will leave you dispirited that the world can be so cruel but thankful for people like Sarah who can overcome tragedy and share her story about love and violence.
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  • Dedra
    January 1, 1970
    I was provided an egalley of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley.The title of this novel caught my attention after having just experienced the solar eclipse of 2017, and after reading the synopsis, I requested to read it. Sarah Perry does a remarkable job recounting the harrowing tale of her mother's murder and the long wait to find her killer. It is obvious this book has been thoroughly researched and painstakingly recounted, and while Sarah's love for her mother clearly comes throu I was provided an egalley of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley.The title of this novel caught my attention after having just experienced the solar eclipse of 2017, and after reading the synopsis, I requested to read it. Sarah Perry does a remarkable job recounting the harrowing tale of her mother's murder and the long wait to find her killer. It is obvious this book has been thoroughly researched and painstakingly recounted, and while Sarah's love for her mother clearly comes through, she does not let it alter the facts of the case. This is an important book that reminds the reader that social class, race, or gender should never affect how a crime is portrayed or perceived, and how each violent crime we read or hear about as we quickly swipe or turn the channel, has impacted and changed someone's life forever.
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  • Lindsay Reynolds
    January 1, 1970
    *Received an advance copy of this*I breezed through this book. I had a special interest in it because 1) for some reason I am always super captivated by murder cases and investigations (i.e. The Jinx, The Staircase, Making a Murderer, etc.) and 2) I vacation in the same town in Maine where the author grew up and experienced this awful tragedy. I never knew the history of this case, so I went into this book blind. It is extra eerie when you can picture every road and restaurant and landmark Sarah *Received an advance copy of this*I breezed through this book. I had a special interest in it because 1) for some reason I am always super captivated by murder cases and investigations (i.e. The Jinx, The Staircase, Making a Murderer, etc.) and 2) I vacation in the same town in Maine where the author grew up and experienced this awful tragedy. I never knew the history of this case, so I went into this book blind. It is extra eerie when you can picture every road and restaurant and landmark Sarah Perry notes.Props to Perry for being about to write about this. The love for her mother, frustrations, guilt, speculation, confusion, anger, etc. all seemed so genuine. She wrote truthfully and it must have taken a lot of emotional strength to complete.
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  • Janilyn Kocher
    January 1, 1970
    After the Eclipse is an absorbing tale of a young mother's savage murder and the impact it had upon her daughter's life. Author Sarah Perry details her life before and after her mother's heinous murder. She also reconstructed her mother's life through research, interviews, and her own recollections. Justice finally came years after her mother's death. It's a gripping story. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
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  • Cindelu
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book on Goodreads. It was well written and actually true. It went into detail about the life of the daughter and mother before and after the mother was murdered. A bit long but interesting and very sad.
  • Ann Laskowski
    January 1, 1970
    Sarah Perry, you rock! This book was so interesting! I felt like I was watching this in a movie theater. I advise anyone who enjoys reading not to miss out on this one. So well written and keeps your interest.
  • Tam Jenkins
    January 1, 1970
    True story, heartbreaking, full of suspense and impossible to put down.
  • Helen Marquis
    January 1, 1970
    At the age of 12, Sarah woke up in the night to hear her mother screaming for her life in the next room, as she was brutally murdered. "After The Eclipse" is her deeply affecting memoir about her mother, her murder and her twelve year wait for the perpetrator's capture, an almost too personal take on a horrific true crime.It's a fascinating, albeit very hard, read that I found almost too voyeuristic, as Sarah shares experiences that nobody, let alone a 12 year old child, should have to go throug At the age of 12, Sarah woke up in the night to hear her mother screaming for her life in the next room, as she was brutally murdered. "After The Eclipse" is her deeply affecting memoir about her mother, her murder and her twelve year wait for the perpetrator's capture, an almost too personal take on a horrific true crime.It's a fascinating, albeit very hard, read that I found almost too voyeuristic, as Sarah shares experiences that nobody, let alone a 12 year old child, should have to go through. The most interesting aspect for me, was seeing the adult Sarah looking back at her history with an exceptional maturity. When you consider everything she went through, she would be justified in being a very angry, bitter, f'ed up adult, but far from it. This is a beautifully written, fascinating memoir, and a moving tribute to her mother.
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