OVERRIDE

Exit

The Endings That Set Us Free

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Sarah Crichton Books

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; they’re 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.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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One
 
HOME
 
 
When most of us think about home, we picture a physical place: the house where we grew up, the address we learned by heart in case we got lost, the room we painted hot pink when we turned eight and our parents allowed us to choose the color, the crack in the third flagstone step leading to the front door, the way no one used the front door anyway, since everyone came in through the back door right off the kitchen. Or our vision of home might be of the house where we now live with our children, where we make the mortgage payments each month and pay the
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REVIEWS

Praise for Exit

"With her trademark grace and insight, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot has added exit lines to her repertoire. in Exit, she is a superb storyteller and a wise guide to the inevitable farewells that punctuate our lives and often set us free."—Ellen Goodman, author of Paper Trail: Common Sense in Uncommon Times
 
"In searching for the grace and courage of exits at every stage in the life cycle, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot offers insights into the deeper continuities that exits can affirm, binding us together and emphasizing the meaning in the composition of our lives. She argues the need for our culture to evolve rituals that express these enduring values in facing the unknown."—Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
 
"The resonant testimonials Lawrence-Lightfoot spotlights nicely dovetail into a conclusion befitting her research into the inevitability of departures and our individual choice to accept or bemoan them. A finely researched examination that sheds a new light on the catharsis of goodbye."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"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 . . ."—Publishers Weekly 
"With her trademark grace and insight, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot has added exit lines to her repertoire. in Exit, she is a superb storyteller and a wise guide to the inevitable farewells that punctuate our lives and often set us free."—Ellen Goodman, author of Paper Trail: Common Sense in Uncommon Times
 
"In searching for the grace and courage of exits at every stage in the life cycle, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot offers insights into the deeper continuities that exits can affirm, binding us together and emphasizing the meaning in the composition of our lives. She argues the need for our culture to evolve rituals that express these enduring values in facing the unknown."—Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
 
"The resonant testimonials Lawrence-Lightfoot spotlights nicely dovetail into a conclusion befitting her research into the inevitability of departures and our individual choice to accept or bemoan them. A finely researched examination that sheds a new light on the catharsis of goodbye."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"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 . . ."—Publishers Weekly 

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

  • Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a MacArthur prize–winning sociologist, is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University. 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.” She is the recipient of twenty-eight honorary degrees and is the first African American woman in Harvard’s history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor.

  • Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot
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Available Formats and Book Details

Exit

The Endings That Set Us Free

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

DKG Educators Award

BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

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