Darkroom: A Family Exposure
is Jill Christman’s gripping, funny, and wise account of her first thirty years. Although her story runs the gamut of dramatic life events, including childhood sexual abuse, accidental death, and psychological trauma, Christman’s poignant memoir is much more than a litany of horrors; instead, it is an open-eyed, wide-hearted, and good-humored look at a life worth surviving.

Through a shifting narrative of text and photographs, Christman explores the intersection of image and memory and considers the ways photographs force us to rework our original memories. Darkroom is a page-turning and disturbing journey that begins with an older brother’s near fatal burning and progresses through a counterculture childhood in which her free-spirited mother moves the family to an isolated mountaintop. The story advances into an adolescence of eating disorders and barely remembered sex, slams into a young adulthood of love, literature, drugs, death, and therapists, and ends soon after a beloved uncle bleeds to death in a federal prison while serving a ten-year sentence for growing marijuana.

Never sentimental, Jill Christman is brutally honest and surprisingly funny. She deftly blends narrative, quoted materials, her uncle’s letters, and her father’s photography to create a family saga that is both heartbreaking and exhilarating.

Praise for Darkroom:

Christman has great talent. The book's a joy. Read it, and see how many bits of life come clear.”—Barry Sanders

[Christman’s] language ranges from an alternately lush and ethereal literariness to a deliberate grimness illuminated by hope.”—Publishers Weekly

Like Truman Capote and Alexandra Fuller, Jill Christman offers…unforgettable visual images, luminous and terrifying at the same time."—Julie Schumacher, author of The Body Is Water

"Darkroom is a work of art, exquisitely written, spare, never self-indulgent…and, at times, frighteningly beautiful."—Diane Roberts, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

[Christman’s] style is sensual and juicy.”—Juliet Wittman, The Washington Post Book World

Christman has written a brave and complex travelogue that sounds a loud ring of truth.”—Max Winter, The Colorado Review

Preconceptions are challenged, experience is analyzed, and painful, socially relevant issues are unflinchingly exposed.”—Rebecca Bollen, Library Journal

"A survivor's tale full of brutal honesty and intelligence.”— Julie Schumacher, author of The Body Is Water

In exquisite and compelling detail, Darkroom exposes Christman’s family photographs in all their complexity and color."—Sue William Silverman, author, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You

"A beautiful story, beautifully told….and in the end, the affirmation of a worthy life, won by a survivor."—John Carlson, The Muncie Star Press