Synopses & Reviews
The wisdom of saying goodbye
In this wise and provocative book, the renowned sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot trains her lens on the myriad exits we make in our lives: exits big and small, extraordinary and ordinary, quick and protracted, painful and liberating.
Exits are ubiquitous. Part of the historical narrative of our country, they mark the physical landscapes we inhabit; theyre braided into the arc of our individual development, laced into our intergenerational relationships, shaped by economic crisis, global mobility, and technological innovations. But we tend to ignore them, often seeing them as signs of failure.
For two years Lawrence-Lightfoot traveled around the country listening to people tell their stories of leaving, witnessing rituals of goodbye, and producing the penetrating portraits that have become her signature. A gay man who finds home and wholeness after coming out of the closet; a sixteen-year-old-boy forced to leave Iran in the midst of a violent civil war; a Catholic priest who leaves the church; an anthropologist who carefully stages her departure from the field after years of research; and many more. Lawrence-Lightfoot shares their stories with sympathy and insight, finding the universal patterns that reframe our exit narratives.
Exit finds wisdom in the possibility of moving on. It marks the start of a new conversation: a chance to discover how to make our exits with dignity and grace.
"Following The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50, Harvard education professor and MacArthur fellow Lawrence-Lightfoot has penned an examination of how people exit careers, countries, and even life. Believing that the small departures we make daily prepare us for the large ones emigration, divorce, death the author argues that each is a drama of ambivalence, decision-making, and epiphany. Lawrence-Lightfoot brilliantly creates intricate narratives of departures accomplished by 10 subjects from, for example, Iran, the closet, bullying at school. Along the way, she only glances at important related topics, such as how immigrants are treated in America or the care of the terminally ill or dying. Her focus remains on exits that, she maintains, 'are often ignored or invisible' in a culture that values embarking on new ventures and experiences. Agent: Ike Williams, Kneerim and Williams. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From a renowned sociologist, the wisdom of saying goodbye
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is enthralled by exits: long farewells, quick goodbyes, sudden endings, the ordinary and the extraordinary. Theres a relationship, she attests, between small goodbyes and our ability “to master and mark the larger farewells.”
In Exit, her tenth book, she explores the ways we leave one thing and move on to the next; how we anticipate, define, and reflect on our departures; our epiphanies that something is over and done with.
Lawrence-Lightfoot, a sociologist and a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has interviewed more than a dozen women and men in states of major change, and she paints their portraits with sympathy and insight: a gay man who finds home and wholeness after coming out; a sixteen-year-old boy forced to leave Iran in the midst of the violent civil war; a Catholic priest who leaves the church he has always been devoted to, he life he has loved, and the work that has been deeply fulfilling; an anthropologist who carefully stages her departure from he “field” after four years of research; and many more.
Too often, Lawrence-Lightfoot believes, we exalt new beginnings t the expense of learning from our goodbyes. Exit finds isdom and perspective in the possibility of moving on and marks the start of a new conversation, to help us discover how we might make our exits with purpose and dignity.
About the Author
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a MacArthur prize-winning sociologist, is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University, where, since 1972, she has studied the culture of families, communities, and schools, and the relationships between human development and social change. She is the author of ten books, including The Third Chapter, Respect, The Essential Conversation, and Balm in Gilead, which won the 1988 Christopher Award for “literary merit and humanitarian achievement.” In 1993, she was awarded Harvards George Ledlie Prize for research that makes “the most valuable contribution to science” and is to “the benefit of mankind.” She is the recipient of twenty-eight honorary degrees and is the first African-American woman in Harvards history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor.