Book reviews

I’ll See You Again: A Memoir
Jackie Hance with Janice Kaplan ’76

Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster, $26
Reviewed by Bruce Fellman

Bruce Fellman is a contributing writer for the Yale Alumni Magazine.

In July 2009, Long Island mom Jackie Hance packed her only children—three daughters—into a car driven by her always-reliable sister-in-law, Diane Schuler, for a weekend camping trip in the Catskills. Hance was nervous, but “they’d be together with adults who loved them, in a place they’d been before. What could happen?”

For a parent, the worst thing imaginable.

On the way home, Schuler—who was, according to the toxicology report, both drunk and high—drove the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway for 1.7 miles before crashing head-on into an SUV, killing the three men inside, herself, her daughter, and Hance’s girls. Only Schuler’s young son survived.

Thus begins a gut-wrenching account about that infamous accident, the aftermath of which could easily have claimed more victims, including Hance’s marriage and Hance herself. Veteran journalist Kaplan has helped craft a compelling story, told in the first person with pitch-perfect and complete honesty. At one point, Hance demands that her husband, Warren, kill her: “‘One of us has to be with the girls,’ I said, thinking I sounded very rational.… ‘They need a parent to take care of them.’”

The so-called “Taconic Mom” and her husband were able to keep going—starting a foundation in honor of the girls, deciding to have another child (it was a daughter), and eventually reaching a measure of forgiveness. “I worried that ‘moving on’ meant abandoning the memories and moments that had been the core of my life,” said Hance. “But now I understood that I didn’t have to close one book to begin a new one.… The book wasn’t finished. We could begin a new chapter.”