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Read online or Download Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder (Full PDF ebook with essay, research paper)
by Amy Butcher

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years



In this powerful and unforgettable memoir, award-winning writer Amy Butcher examines the shattering consequences of failing a friend when she felt he needed one most. Four weeks before their college graduation, twenty-one-year-old Kevin Schaeffer walked Amy Butcher to her home in their college town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Hours after parting ways with Amy, he fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Emily Silverstein. While he was awaiting trial, psychiatrists concluded that he had suffered an acute psychotic break. Although severely affected by Kevin’s crime, Amy remained devoted to him as a friend, believing that his actions were the direct result of his untreated illness. Over time, she became obsessed—determined to discover the narrative that explained what Kevin had done. The tragedy deeply shook her concept of reality, disrupted her sense of right and wrong, and dismantled every conceivable notion she’d established about herself and her relation to the world. Eventually realizing that she would never have the answers, or find personal peace, unless she went after it herself, Amy returned to Gettysburg—the first time in three years since graduation—to sift through hundreds of pages of public records: mental health evaluations, detectives’ notes, inventories of evidence, search warrants, testimonies, and even Kevin’s own confession.

Visiting Hours is Amy Butcher’s deeply personal, heart-wrenching exploration of how trauma affects memory and the way a friendship changes and often strengthens through seemingly insurmountable challenges. Ultimately, it’s a testament to the bonds we share with others and the profound resilience and strength of the human spirit.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Judy Blunt
What William Styron's Darkness Visible approaches from an insider's perspective, Visiting Hours addresses from an outside viewpoint, that of the family and friends who often feel at a loss to help. Butcher is strongest in the final chapters, when her eyes turn outward, investigating Schaeffer's story in light of our country's alarming suicide rate. Her research offers a tragic portrait of the turn of events that left one young woman dead and another forever changed.

Related Subjects

  • ">Women's Biography - General & Miscellaneous

    Read an Excerpt


    My friend, the facts proved, had lost it, and I feared I was losing it, as well. I felt sick, confused by a world that seemed antithetical to the one I’d always known. My whole life, I’d believed the universe depended upon everything fitting together—a quilt of the most careful squares—but there was no fitting in what Kevin had done. There was no place for his behavior.

    It seemed chaos, plain and simple.

    Every now and then, it crossed my mind to look up my own symptoms: my fear, my agitation, my nightmares and obsessive thoughts. How I spent whole hours imagining Kevin’s face, or the only recollections I had of Emily, or the moments—however few—when I could recall them alone together. The way I felt when it was night. Or when I was in close proximity to a tub. Or with a man, or with a stranger, or with someone I did not trust.

    All these symptoms, both big and small, I wished were less a part of me than they were.

    Later, I’d undress and stand in the shower until the hot water ran cold. I liked to feel it rush over me, imagine what was wrong as something that could be scrubbed away, like dirt. My fear, panic, all that confusion—I imagined it diluting and draining downwards, spiraling, traveling through a complex network of pipes and into rivers. I saw it float down the Mississippi. I saw it in the surf on a beach in Mexico. I lathered my body slowly, always conscious of my feet: my toenails, red and shining, against the clean, white, empty tub.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A gripping and poignant memoir.” –Kirkus

“There are horrors in Visiting Hours—some of them emotional, some incomprehensibly not. But what rises above it all in this exhilaratingly honest and brutal debut is what might be the book’s most disturbingly beautiful element: its tribute to memory, its testament of love, and its wide-eyed inquiry into just how long those two things really last.” —John D’Agata, author of About a Mountain

“Amy Butcher asks the two hardest questions: what do we mean to ourselves and what do we mean to each other? She asks in innocence and responds with hard earned experience and wisdom to share. You will need to give Visiting Hours away and buy another for yourself so you have someone to talk to about it. You will keep an eye out for this writer and what she will do next. It is not right that she is so smart, so talented and so young all at the same time. Yes, hers is a debut to envy and here we are at the very beginning.” –Robert Olmstead, author of Coal Black Horse

“Visiting Hours is the culmination of Amy Butcher’s many talents: beautifully dense yet accessible prose rendered with complete honesty. She will make you question everyone you’ve ever thought you’ve known.” —Mary Miller, author of The Last Days of California
"Amy Butcher has written an incredible portrait of trauma. In crisp, beautiful pose, Butcher revisits an extraordinary and terrible night that will come to haunt and trouble her forever. What is the nature of traumatic memory? Whose sadness do we have claim to? What can be done when people we love do terrible things? Butcher's generous and honest meditation on how traumatic memory can shape ordinary lives will make you a better and more empathetic person." —Jen Percy, author of Demon Camp

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