Books & Books, Coral Gables. June 14, 2012. 8:00 p.m.
As Lawrence-Lightfoot notes, there are few examples in our culture to suggest how to approach exits with grace and understanding. We are focused instead on the idea of beginnings, the start of something rather than the acknowledgement of an ending. These questions of exiting are particularly timely as we live in a period when many people are leaving jobs, by choice or through circumstance, as well as a time when technology makes murkier the idea of final farewells.
In thoughtful prose, she explores the experiences of various people with stories of transition and exits, including, among many others an Iranian teenager who leaves the political strife of his native land to come alone to America; a middle-aged gay man who remembers his long exit from the closet; an anthropologist whose exit from the field raises relational and ethical challenges; and a woman who promises her husband that his death, the final exit, will be both beautiful and triumphant.
Woven through all of these stories are ideas of home and voice, freedom and yearning, wounds and grace – and the concept that our developing the habit of small goodbyes and everyday transitions helps us “master and mark the larger farewells.” In this way, Exit moves the idea of endings from the shadows to the light, “witnessing the ways in which exits can become moments for listening, storytelling, imagining, and creating choices that were unimaginable before.”
Vibrant and engaging, Exit asks us to claim our endings and mark our farewells with consideration and ceremony, showing how our transitions are an essential part of our individual journeys.
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard. As a sociologist, she examines the culture of schools, the patterns and structures of classroom life, socialization within families and communities, and the relationships between culture and learning styles.
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