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A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me: A Memoir

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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 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 List of Things That Didn't Kill Me by Jason Schmidt is a gripping, heartbreaking young adult memoir.


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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 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 List of Things That Didn't Kill Me by Jason Schmidt is a gripping, heartbreaking young adult memoir.

30 review for A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rosina Lippi

    Jason was a student in one of my creative writing classes in 1998, and I can say without reservation that he is the most talented undergraduate I ever worked with. I have followed his writing ever since -- through his (now defunct, and much missed) weblog, short stories, a beautifully written novel, and finally this memoir. There are very basic things children should be able to take for granted, whether rich or poor: food, someplace to sleep, a watchful and nurturing adult. Kids who don't have t Jason was a student in one of my creative writing classes in 1998, and I can say without reservation that he is the most talented undergraduate I ever worked with. I have followed his writing ever since -- through his (now defunct, and much missed) weblog, short stories, a beautifully written novel, and finally this memoir. There are very basic things children should be able to take for granted, whether rich or poor: food, someplace to sleep, a watchful and nurturing adult. Kids who don't have those things have to fight every day to survive on the fringe, and harder still, to move beyond the experiences that shaped them. The only weapons available are the ones they can find within themselves. A person who fights that very long and difficult battle and comes out a whole human being has grown a kind of armor. The problem is that you can't make other people understand that journey unless you're able and willing to take off that armor and let them see the scars. Jason did that, but a careful reader will come away with more than an understanding of how he survived. There are thousands of kids out there right now who are experiencing life the way Jason did. Too many of them won't survive, or will come into adulthood unable to do anything else but follow the pattern they've internalized. After reading this memoir it will be harder for the more fortunate not to see those kids. And that's exactly as it should be.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    Jason’s memoir should be titled, A List of Things That Didn’t Put Me behind Bars, because after reading his memoir, Jason should be lucky he didn’t lose it. Jason’s ability to write down his daily life without all the negative emotions and baggage that came trampling along beside him was amazing. His father was candid and perhaps that helped Jason in his ability to tell it truthfully and not bitterly, his memoir was truly an eye-opener. According to his father, Jason was a “by-product of his par Jason’s memoir should be titled, A List of Things That Didn’t Put Me behind Bars, because after reading his memoir, Jason should be lucky he didn’t lose it. Jason’s ability to write down his daily life without all the negative emotions and baggage that came trampling along beside him was amazing. His father was candid and perhaps that helped Jason in his ability to tell it truthfully and not bitterly, his memoir was truly an eye-opener. According to his father, Jason was a “by-product of his parents attempt to be normal.” What a wonderful way for a child to think of himself in his informative years. Jason spends most of his childhood alone and in the front of the television, welcome to the 70’s. In the novel, we watch Jason as he deals with life and his part in it. His mother is no longer in the picture and his father slowly fades in and out as drugs consume him. His father seems to be searching for himself, always going after something else, never satisfied with what he has. I had that country song where the artist sings about always reaching for something we don’t have playing in the back of my head as I read this novel. Jason’s father is on the move, never content and he’s bringing Jason with him. During one sprint, the two of them move in with John and John watches Jason while his father goes to school. I really thought this relationship was special; John acted more like a father to Jason and they bonded. As they read books together, I hoping this relationship would last but of course, something else was in the cards. Jason was abused by his father and it amazed me how this treatment affected Jason. His classmates also abused him. Jason just couldn’t get a break. How he kept it all together, was beyond me. Jason lacked the skills for making friends and these individuals were the only people within his grasp that he could reach out to. This book was a remarkable memoir, it dealt with a variety of hard subject matter but it showed that the human spirit can overcome and be resilient. I will be rereading this novel again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    - ̗̀ jess ̖́-

    A List of Things that Didn't Kill Me is an eye-opening memoir about growing up with an abusive parent, and it's also a story of getting through a rough life, of determination to keep going. Schmidt's story can be brutal at times, but it doesn't read as a series of tragedies. It's admirable how he gets through it and tells his story after the fact, portraying his relationship with his dad and his life as very complex and many-sided. I like Schmidt's writing style in his prose, but the chapter str A List of Things that Didn't Kill Me is an eye-opening memoir about growing up with an abusive parent, and it's also a story of getting through a rough life, of determination to keep going. Schmidt's story can be brutal at times, but it doesn't read as a series of tragedies. It's admirable how he gets through it and tells his story after the fact, portraying his relationship with his dad and his life as very complex and many-sided. I like Schmidt's writing style in his prose, but the chapter structure often threw me off, because it jumped around chronologically a bit; he wrote thematically and grouped events rather than times. He doesn't tone down events for the readers, even though this is categorized as YA, which is good, and I hope it helps kids in situations similar to his feel less alone.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fiona Mackie

    I'm amazed the author made it to adulthood, with a mother who abandoned him to his (initially) closeted father, and the constant parade of drug users, dealers, abusers etc. There is redemption and hope at the end, and I would have liked to have had a little more about how he turned his life around, with the support of a retired principal. This is the most intense 'misery lit' book I've ever read, and I've read a few... Not sure if I'd recommend it to any of the students at school, or buy it for o I'm amazed the author made it to adulthood, with a mother who abandoned him to his (initially) closeted father, and the constant parade of drug users, dealers, abusers etc. There is redemption and hope at the end, and I would have liked to have had a little more about how he turned his life around, with the support of a retired principal. This is the most intense 'misery lit' book I've ever read, and I've read a few... Not sure if I'd recommend it to any of the students at school, or buy it for our collection - will need to think about that. It is written well, but the constant parade of bad people and bad situations, with the writer the innocent one (well, at the start, anyway) started to wear on me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Wow. This is a heavy memoir. This kid goes through a hell of a childhood... and keeps on going. Every time I thought, "How did he manage?" I realize, he didn't realize there was any option but to do just that. I was surprised to find that this book is labeled as young adult. Some of my 8th grade students are excellent readers and more mature than their chronological age, but I'd think twice about putting this story into their hands. Not that it's not a valuable story - it IS - but it's a lot to Wow. This is a heavy memoir. This kid goes through a hell of a childhood... and keeps on going. Every time I thought, "How did he manage?" I realize, he didn't realize there was any option but to do just that. I was surprised to find that this book is labeled as young adult. Some of my 8th grade students are excellent readers and more mature than their chronological age, but I'd think twice about putting this story into their hands. Not that it's not a valuable story - it IS - but it's a lot to process, especially when it comes to the warped relationship that can exist between a boy and his father.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Jason's childhood has everything: abuse and neglect, poverty, a missing parent, drug addiction, inappropriate sexual situations, homosexuality (before it was accepted). In addition, he also had freedom, many pets, and his own brain and thoughts. I can't believe he made it to adulthood. He has a very unique perspective on the "straights" and who he can trust. His story ends around age 20 and I kept searching on the internet - how did the next 20 years go? I'm assuming much better than the first s Jason's childhood has everything: abuse and neglect, poverty, a missing parent, drug addiction, inappropriate sexual situations, homosexuality (before it was accepted). In addition, he also had freedom, many pets, and his own brain and thoughts. I can't believe he made it to adulthood. He has a very unique perspective on the "straights" and who he can trust. His story ends around age 20 and I kept searching on the internet - how did the next 20 years go? I'm assuming much better than the first stretch. I hope he's happy with his life and has some inner peace over his childhood.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diana Welsch

    As an adult who is permanently stunted in ways from growing up in an environment of abuse and addiction, I'm interested in books, fictional and nonfictional, about other peoples' experiences with this. My favorite is probably Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I can't remember where I heard about A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me, but it intrigued me enough to read it. My upbringing wasn't drug-dealing-father-with-AIDS bad, so maybe it would give me some perspective! There were some very mem As an adult who is permanently stunted in ways from growing up in an environment of abuse and addiction, I'm interested in books, fictional and nonfictional, about other peoples' experiences with this. My favorite is probably Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I can't remember where I heard about A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me, but it intrigued me enough to read it. My upbringing wasn't drug-dealing-father-with-AIDS bad, so maybe it would give me some perspective! There were some very memorable parts, such as when, as a child, he wanders into a neighbor's yard and the neighbor invites him to watch him slaughter a goat for dinner. And, of course, the AIDS charity volunteer who comes to clean their home while his father is dying, a retired principal who gently urges him to take action towards planning a life for himself and pulls strings to get him into a university. On the other hand, I can see why some people choose to fictionalize their life stories a bit, such as condensing multiple characters into one person. This kid moved around a lot and I had a hard time keeping track of all the people that he only knew a short time, but that maybe made another appearance later. Like, wait, was that...? a classmate? A neighbor? Someone he lived with? I don't remember and I don't care enough to go back to look it up. It also included a lot of details that may have been important to the writer but didn't do much to move the "plot" along, such as the time his girlfriend's car got a coolant leak. Huh? What I'm saying is, it was an OK book, but it could have benefited from a little tightening up.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy Holland

    It seems like Jason Schmidt turned out to be an exceptional human being, but it would be completely understandable if he ended up being a really dour person. His parents split when he was young, and (unconventionally) he ended up with his dad, who was verbally and physically abusive. His mom was completely out of the picture, so when his dad contracted AIDS when Schmidt was in high school, he had to deal with it completely on his own. This meant that, at 15, he was in charge of caring for the pe It seems like Jason Schmidt turned out to be an exceptional human being, but it would be completely understandable if he ended up being a really dour person. His parents split when he was young, and (unconventionally) he ended up with his dad, who was verbally and physically abusive. His mom was completely out of the picture, so when his dad contracted AIDS when Schmidt was in high school, he had to deal with it completely on his own. This meant that, at 15, he was in charge of caring for the person who kicked him, threw him against the wall, and constantly told him how worthless he was. On top of all that, other people in his life kept dying -- some from AIDS, at least one from drug addiction, one from suicide. He was raging, for sure, but he managed to stay away from drugs and keep going to school. Even though this is a really heavy book, there's still some humor, and the writing was great -- Schmidt is clearly very self-aware and intelligent, so he tells his story with clarity and wit. I love messed-up childhood memoirs, and also memoirs about people with diseases -- this book had both! I think part of my enjoyment is voyeuristic, but another part (hopefully the bigger part) likes reading books like this because they broaden my worldview. I had a pretty conventional childhood, so it's eye-opening to read about children/teens who live in abusive situations. It's important knowledge to internalize, especially in my line of work -- I come across people all the time who are mean/rude/unruly, and maybe instead of being all judge-y, I should consider that maybe they had a really crappy childhood. Not to say that having a crappy childhood automatically means you turn out to be a jerk -- that's not true at all. I just think it's important to be understanding when someone doesn't act the way you want them to. Books like this remind me that I need to do that.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    Slow going in the beginning but the tension builds as Jason Schmidt relays the story of his years growing up without a mother, under the so-called care of his gay, drug addict father. They moved constantly, not only locally but also out of state at one point. He was exposed to the influence of others like his father so there was little positivity and mostly rootless, aimless behavior. He grew up; he wasn't brought up. The constant verbal and physical abuse he endured from his father resulted in Slow going in the beginning but the tension builds as Jason Schmidt relays the story of his years growing up without a mother, under the so-called care of his gay, drug addict father. They moved constantly, not only locally but also out of state at one point. He was exposed to the influence of others like his father so there was little positivity and mostly rootless, aimless behavior. He grew up; he wasn't brought up. The constant verbal and physical abuse he endured from his father resulted in him being a shy and introverted child/teen. He was also sexually abused as a child, by an educator, no less. Somehow Jason decided to steer clear of cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and gangs. He carried weapons as a defense, not to offend. As his father was dying of AIDS Jason had no direction in his life and only fear for his personal future. A retired educator came into his life, initially to assist his dying father but ultimately became a positive force in Jason's life, motivating him to think of himself and what he wanted. Part of the proceeds of the sale of this book will go to a fund in this man's memory, a very fitting memorial.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I made it to page 100 and then gave up. I might come back to it later. I do like that the author acknowledges that he is an unreliable narrator at times but then it makes it difficult to understand what is true or not. I did try to approach it as a broader childhood experience rather than specific events. I have many friends who unfortunately had similar experiences growing up. However, I just couldn't get in to the writing style. There's a story - then we move on. Next story and so on and it fee I made it to page 100 and then gave up. I might come back to it later. I do like that the author acknowledges that he is an unreliable narrator at times but then it makes it difficult to understand what is true or not. I did try to approach it as a broader childhood experience rather than specific events. I have many friends who unfortunately had similar experiences growing up. However, I just couldn't get in to the writing style. There's a story - then we move on. Next story and so on and it feels a little disjointed. Like I said, I might come back to it because maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind for reading this yet. From what I did manage to read, I would recommend it to people leading (or that have led) harsh, unconventional childhoods that feel isolated or alone. It may help to read about someone who made it through such an experience.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    If I was a cool kid, I'd say memoirs are bae, but I was never cool and I'm not a kid. This perfectly-titled memoir opened my eyes to a part of the country and a part of society that I might pretend to know because of the grunge music that I listened to in college but in actuality know very little about. Since this man is my age, the time frame is the same, but that's pretty much where my knowledge ends. Eye-opening and definitely not for the faint of heart. If I was a cool kid, I'd say memoirs are bae, but I was never cool and I'm not a kid. This perfectly-titled memoir opened my eyes to a part of the country and a part of society that I might pretend to know because of the grunge music that I listened to in college but in actuality know very little about. Since this man is my age, the time frame is the same, but that's pretty much where my knowledge ends. Eye-opening and definitely not for the faint of heart.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allyson Rourke

    A beautifully written testament to human resilience

  13. 4 out of 5

    Debra Dahlgren Rowand

    Wow & powerful! This has been on my to-read pile for a couple of years & finally we selected it for our High School Book Club. This is a great memoir and will appeal to anyone who read & liked The Glass Castle or It's Kind of A Funny Story. It's edgy, disturbing at times and eye-opening.....and colored with deadpan humor from the eyes of the author. Again, not for those who only want to read a happy story as this is gritty & real. But such a great tale. Well done Jason Schmidt. You truly are ama Wow & powerful! This has been on my to-read pile for a couple of years & finally we selected it for our High School Book Club. This is a great memoir and will appeal to anyone who read & liked The Glass Castle or It's Kind of A Funny Story. It's edgy, disturbing at times and eye-opening.....and colored with deadpan humor from the eyes of the author. Again, not for those who only want to read a happy story as this is gritty & real. But such a great tale. Well done Jason Schmidt. You truly are amazing!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    Pretty incredible. Apparently I'm two-degrees of separation away from the author, and knew nothing of his story, not even the blurb, which is basically the first chapter: growing up with a gay drug-addicted single-father with AIDS. During some of the "ugly" teen years, I guarantee you will NOT like Jason, and have to keep holding out hope for the few people who manage to help. But in the end, the heavy-lifting is all his, despite the odds. (Only criticism: WHY does every memoir these days have ha Pretty incredible. Apparently I'm two-degrees of separation away from the author, and knew nothing of his story, not even the blurb, which is basically the first chapter: growing up with a gay drug-addicted single-father with AIDS. During some of the "ugly" teen years, I guarantee you will NOT like Jason, and have to keep holding out hope for the few people who manage to help. But in the end, the heavy-lifting is all his, despite the odds. (Only criticism: WHY does every memoir these days have harm coming to animals??? Give some warning on that shit!)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark Adams

    Unique personal perspective of an author life. Every story, even the untold, are worth writing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charity Shumway

    I've been struggling with whether I should post about reading this book. I am not ashamed of what I read, but the audience that I have here on my FB is wide, and in turn, so are their views, and what they deem "acceptable". This isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s a heavy read. To some, it could be considered a dark and disturbing book. In this book that may not be appropriate for all audiences are the following: excessive drugs, sex, animal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, homo I've been struggling with whether I should post about reading this book. I am not ashamed of what I read, but the audience that I have here on my FB is wide, and in turn, so are their views, and what they deem "acceptable". This isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s a heavy read. To some, it could be considered a dark and disturbing book. In this book that may not be appropriate for all audiences are the following: excessive drugs, sex, animal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, homosexuality, neglect, sickness, etc… This book takes place in Oregon & Washington (yay for localness! Maybe that’s why it hit a bit closer to home for me). This is a story about Jason, from birth to young adult (college age), a memoir. This book may be disturbing to some, who have not been exposed to some of the more “uglier” parts of life. This book takes place in the 70’s & 80’s. Times haven’t changed, at least with regards to events in this book. They may have gotten worse, but in no way shape or form have they gotten better. I in no way experienced entirely what he did, but there were parts of the book that I 100% understood and identified with. Some of his experiences and the life he was exposed too – I’d been there. I felt his pain, and now, as an adult, wished that I would have made better choices as a child/teen. I wish, just like he did, that some of the adults in my life would have made better choices and done things differently. I wish that I would have reached out to those who were worse off than me. Growing up, I knew which kids they were. I was friends with some of them, not all of them, but some. I would hear things in the halls. They never had people over. If they did, it was always kids who were like them. They would come to school in dirty clothes, un-showered for who knows how many days, un-brushed/ratty hair. They were never friends with the “popular” kids. They were mostly brushed away by teachers & staff. Often put into special ed classes because of their behavior. I have no idea how Jason kept it together as much as he did. Some of the kids I grew up with, like Jason have not made it out unscathed. Some have been to jail (or still are), some are addicted to the worst drugs out there. I feel like I fell in between the “straights” & Jason’s life. As a teenager, I walked a very fine line, and fortunately, came out mostly unharmed. I wish I could take every one of the kids that this is happening to, and wrap my arms around them and tell them they’re loved. They’re wanted. They’re not alone. No one should experience or feel what Jason did throughout his entire childhood. All of that to say. I highly recommend this book. I’m not sure which audience I would recommend it to, but it is a book that needs to be read. The topics in this book need to be addressed on a much larger scale. The scenarios in this book didn’t only happen in the 70’s & 80’s. They are happening right now. Right this second. To people you know and love. If you don’t think that’s the case, you’re wrong. If you were that kid, that I grew up with... You are loved. You are not alone. There are people out there who will fight for you. There's still time to make things right and change your life. Your situation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ethan Brausen

    Book Review My Opinion The nonfiction novel, “A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me” by Jason Schmidt was, surprisingly, very compelling in my eyes. The reason I say I was surprised by being compelled was because the story to me was very dark and disturbing, but exciting at the same time as if it was written by Stephen King. It sure felt like that. But all in all, the book was very, very interesting and I would recommend it to anyone that loves cliff-hanging, captivating, and deep topic books. Feel Book Review My Opinion The nonfiction novel, “A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me” by Jason Schmidt was, surprisingly, very compelling in my eyes. The reason I say I was surprised by being compelled was because the story to me was very dark and disturbing, but exciting at the same time as if it was written by Stephen King. It sure felt like that. But all in all, the book was very, very interesting and I would recommend it to anyone that loves cliff-hanging, captivating, and deep topic books. Feeling It feels like the author wanted me to feel this way. The main topic of the story and how the author brought the story the place, is the quote, “How do you find your moral center in a world that doesn't seems to have one?” I keep saying this over and over again, but that quote can bring so many topics into itself and its jaw-dropping. The author brings in so many disturbing insights about his life as a young boy that he has held in so long from the public. Summary So basically the story is about this young boy named Jason Schmidt, which is also the author, that explains his life as a child going through depression, homelessness, starvation, disease, and being emotionally and physically beaten. The whole story revolves around the question, “How do you find your moral center in a world that doesn't seem to have one?” and Jason is trying to keep his drug smoking, crime committing, sex seeking secrets from the “straights,” the people he called that had normal lives living in normal homes with a normal, happy family. He wanted to be one of them. But he couldn’t. “He envied them. But he also feared them,” the author writes. With all the secrets in his life with his father, Mark, the straights have a chance to figure out what's happening, they would report it to the cops and his life could fall apart… Why Read? If you like cliff hanging, captivating, deep topic, exciting, scary, anticipating, emotional, and gripping to the mind then you need to read this book because it has it all, but piece by piece it bring it into the story which is an amazing way for the author to lead you to reading more.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Books

    As an adult reading this book, I generally liked it. As an adult reading this book for a YA review group... not so much. This is a very heavy read, and the author does not sugar coat or gloss over any disturbing details. All aspects of this memoir are graphically descriptive: violence, child and animal abuse, sex, drugs, death. I kept waiting for the the point the author tells us he made it past his extremely troubled childhood and adolescence (clearly since he's published this book), but that d As an adult reading this book, I generally liked it. As an adult reading this book for a YA review group... not so much. This is a very heavy read, and the author does not sugar coat or gloss over any disturbing details. All aspects of this memoir are graphically descriptive: violence, child and animal abuse, sex, drugs, death. I kept waiting for the the point the author tells us he made it past his extremely troubled childhood and adolescence (clearly since he's published this book), but that didn't come until the very end; literally the last couple of pages. Jason Schmidt's account of his life is nearly unbearable. You can't help but gasp in horror at his experiences. Some of the most shocking examples include: suffering from a staph infection while living in a tent by a creek with his father; a doctor believing he had worms because his backside was so itchy because his father never showed him how to wipe himself properly; having his father's adult friends graphically show him how to have heterosexual sex; and the author himself nearly and purposefully killing their family cat. And all of these atrocities happen BEFORE he reaches puberty. And then the hits just keep on coming. I stopped reading this memoir word for word once I read the part about Jason flinging his cat in the air to see if it would land on its feet -- spoiler; it didn't. I would not recommend this title to anyone who is squeamish about sex, drugs, or nonchalant attitudes about animal cruelty. Even though I do like that the author "tells it like it is," this memoir is saturated with such mature content that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone younger than 17. And even at that, I would only recommend this title to a teen who may have had some of the same experiences (neglectful, abusive adults in their life; experienced drug use; wants to overcome equally "heavy" obstacles) and wants to read about someone with severe emotional trauma.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emilee Cole

    A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt is told in the perspective of a growing boy. Jason Schmidt is trying to get the readers to appreciate the things they have in life, because not everyone is fortunate enough to have a safe and stable home with parents who care for them. Jason has to learn how to overcome tough obstacles in his life involving drugs, crimes, poverty, abuse, secrets and social issues. In the book Jason explains his journey to adulthood and the struggles he had to A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt is told in the perspective of a growing boy. Jason Schmidt is trying to get the readers to appreciate the things they have in life, because not everyone is fortunate enough to have a safe and stable home with parents who care for them. Jason has to learn how to overcome tough obstacles in his life involving drugs, crimes, poverty, abuse, secrets and social issues. In the book Jason explains his journey to adulthood and the struggles he had to face. Mark (Jason’s dad) was very careless about the decisions he made, which had an impact on his life and Jason’s future. Mark was not there for Jason when he needed him the most. This made it really hard for Jason to have a happy life. Lots of people wish for the things we take for granted. We need to be thankful for the things we have and be grateful for our families who love us dearly. I thought this book was slow paced, the author took too long to explain one thing, this is when I would become lost and confused. I was stuck on when the climax occurred since there was so much mixed information in the text. I felt like the author was rambling about the same things over and over again. Overall this book was okay, but I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily Harrington

    A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt was an awful book. This book was a memoir, and I don’t normally read these types of books, but I had to read it for school. This is the most boring book I have ever read. It had too many explanations and it never caught my attention for long periods of time. The book was about Jason the main character and how he grew up in a different kind of life style in the 1970’s. His dad was usually high and never really cared for Jason. Jason kind of jus A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt was an awful book. This book was a memoir, and I don’t normally read these types of books, but I had to read it for school. This is the most boring book I have ever read. It had too many explanations and it never caught my attention for long periods of time. The book was about Jason the main character and how he grew up in a different kind of life style in the 1970’s. His dad was usually high and never really cared for Jason. Jason kind of just goes through life slowly. Eventually he finds out his dad has aids and changes the story a little. The writing style was too long and wordy and I didn’t like it. The perspective was almost every thought he had written down. It was like reading someone else’s whole life from 4 years old to 20 years old in one book. You can only image how many wordy pages there were. Overall the book was too long and needed some more excitement. It was just a book I would have never read if I could go back in time. The explanations of his thoughts and everything he wrote was just like a million words unneeded. I just could skipped over all those pages none of them were important to the overall story. Lastly I suggest that you don’t read this book but choose a different memoir that has a better plot.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Uma

    I finished reading A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me about three weeks ago and boy was I glad that it was over. As Jason Schmidt recalls his first 20 years of living, the reader is left thinking about how awful his life was. The book leaves you with the message that “you can always change the life you were given” but also with the feeling of regret for reading the novel. A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me is the life story of Jason Schmidt who talks a lot about his father Mark, who just ha I finished reading A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me about three weeks ago and boy was I glad that it was over. As Jason Schmidt recalls his first 20 years of living, the reader is left thinking about how awful his life was. The book leaves you with the message that “you can always change the life you were given” but also with the feeling of regret for reading the novel. A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me is the life story of Jason Schmidt who talks a lot about his father Mark, who just happens to have AIDS. The memoir recounts every little detail in Jason’s life from the crime to the drugs to… a lot of other things… I found this book to be an awful read. It just wasn’t something that I could relax with and read by the fireplace. The author’s foul language makes you cringe and so does the things that he has done. This book ranges from the 1970’s to the 1980’s, which makes it a horrible book for young adults to relate to. That, and no one else can imagine living the life of Jason Schmidt. All in all, A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me is not a book I would read, think about, or recommend ever again. While it is quite humorous at times, the images this book leaves in a readers mind makes it a very distasteful novel. I will never pick up this book again.

  22. 4 out of 5

    D.peabody

    This book is tragic. It is truly awful. Not because it is badly written but because it is a true story. It is a litany of the bad things that happened to Jason Schmidt as he grew up. As I read I was both horrified and fascinated. Fascinated at Jason's responses to the things that happened to him, at the way his mind worked and at the way that people reacted to him as well. I cannot tell you that I liked this book, I did not. As I say the subject matter was the cause. The story itself was very we This book is tragic. It is truly awful. Not because it is badly written but because it is a true story. It is a litany of the bad things that happened to Jason Schmidt as he grew up. As I read I was both horrified and fascinated. Fascinated at Jason's responses to the things that happened to him, at the way his mind worked and at the way that people reacted to him as well. I cannot tell you that I liked this book, I did not. As I say the subject matter was the cause. The story itself was very well constructed. The copious detail allowed me to see, hear and sometimes smell the environment that Jason described. Each event lead to the next. I was unable to tear myself away. I guess in the end I needed to know whether there was any redemption at all. Would I give this to a teen? No. Probably not. Maybe. Even in its true awfulness this is a story that needed to be told.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Perla The IB Teen Book Blogger

    My feelings are so tied into my personal experiences that I feel like talking about myself instead of the book. Gimme a minute and I'll be able to divorce myself from this naked, real, crazy, heartbreaking, fucked up book. Loved it, couldn't put it down. Sometimes it felt impossible that anyone can have a life like Jason had. But my sheltered and limited upraising must have seemed the stuff of dreams for kids like Jason. I could not walk away from this book, it sucked me in completely. Hard to re My feelings are so tied into my personal experiences that I feel like talking about myself instead of the book. Gimme a minute and I'll be able to divorce myself from this naked, real, crazy, heartbreaking, fucked up book. Loved it, couldn't put it down. Sometimes it felt impossible that anyone can have a life like Jason had. But my sheltered and limited upraising must have seemed the stuff of dreams for kids like Jason. I could not walk away from this book, it sucked me in completely. Hard to read in so many parts, wanting to jump into the pages and HELP this young man, and admittedly wanting to punch him in the face. It was all fantastically unreal reality told in a romantic and often unflinching way. Cannot wait to see what author Jason Schmidt come out with in his next endeavor.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

    It's been over a month and I'm still periodically thinking about this book. Jason's memoir tells what it was like growing up with a broke, gay dad who ended up being HIV+ in the 70s. It's amazing that the author was able to survive growing up this way and I think it's a testament to what we can endure. I think memoirs like this are important b/c they show teens who are growing up in fucked up situations that others have and that they've survived. I do wish it had provided a bit more background o It's been over a month and I'm still periodically thinking about this book. Jason's memoir tells what it was like growing up with a broke, gay dad who ended up being HIV+ in the 70s. It's amazing that the author was able to survive growing up this way and I think it's a testament to what we can endure. I think memoirs like this are important b/c they show teens who are growing up in fucked up situations that others have and that they've survived. I do wish it had provided a bit more background on where the author is now for that reason but still imporant without it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ViDesh032201

    A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me is a book that makes me laugh with its unnecessary inappropriate language in the dialogue.This book is about a guys life and what he went through during his life.I like that i can relate to his life as a child because some of the things I can relate to like when he had to give up Charlie his chicken because I had to give up my pets. The plot and the characters are relatable . I don't read books and so me liking this book is actually surprising and so I would A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me is a book that makes me laugh with its unnecessary inappropriate language in the dialogue.This book is about a guys life and what he went through during his life.I like that i can relate to his life as a child because some of the things I can relate to like when he had to give up Charlie his chicken because I had to give up my pets. The plot and the characters are relatable . I don't read books and so me liking this book is actually surprising and so I would recommend this book to people that don't generally read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Schmidt is a great storyteller, I really enjoyed the way he writes. It's a deep, dark memoir that takes you from disbelief, to pity, to madness. The author lived a hard life and you want nothing but the best for him. In the final chapter wrap up, I was happy he found his way, however it took a long time to get there. I wanted to give up on the story halfway through, it just wasn't holding my attention like I had hoped, but I powered through. The book has short quick chapters, which I like. Jason Schmidt is a great storyteller, I really enjoyed the way he writes. It's a deep, dark memoir that takes you from disbelief, to pity, to madness. The author lived a hard life and you want nothing but the best for him. In the final chapter wrap up, I was happy he found his way, however it took a long time to get there. I wanted to give up on the story halfway through, it just wasn't holding my attention like I had hoped, but I powered through. The book has short quick chapters, which I like. Jason I hope you have a whole drawer full of underwear and socks these days, keep pushing forward.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laure Porché

    A very moving book. What I liked the most was the ability of the author to narrate everything without sentimentalism or judgment, but really as the child he was must have experienced it: as facts of life that have to be borne or dealt with. It makes it all the more striking for us, and yet we never feel pity for the hero. The writing binds our heart to his fate in a much more efficient way than if it was actually acknowledging in a dramatic way the hardship Jason endured. A must read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen Finneyfrock

    I got to read an ARC for A List of Things and it took my breath away. The writing is great but I was even more surprised by how quickly I felt invested in the story. It is told through bursts of memory and all of these seem necessary to the larger story about growing up on the fringes. Whatever I was doing throughout my day, I just wanted to be reading this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    ChapterOne

    It was a little jolt of shock every time his age was mentioned, because he seemed to be so very young to have gone through pretty much everything mentioned in the book. It's sad and makes you wonder how can things like this be true? I wonder what his father would have thought about the book? It was a little jolt of shock every time his age was mentioned, because he seemed to be so very young to have gone through pretty much everything mentioned in the book. It's sad and makes you wonder how can things like this be true? I wonder what his father would have thought about the book?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anne (w/ an E)

    I totally agree with Fiona's review and couldn't have said it better myself. I totally agree with Fiona's review and couldn't have said it better myself.

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