Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder By Amy Butcher Cover Image
This item is not currently available to order.

Staff Reviews

This eerie, beautifully-written memoir will keep you up all night.

— Suzanna


“A gripping and poignant memoir.”–Kirkus 

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.

About the Author

Amy Butcher’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review online, Tin House online, The Iowa Review, Salon, Gulf Coast, Guernica and Brevity, among others. She earned her MFA from the University of Iowa and is the recipient of awards and grants from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Stanley Foundation for International Research, the Academy of American Poets, and Colgate University’s Olive B. O’Connor Creative Writing Fellowship. She is the recipient of the 2014 Iowa Review award in nonfiction and teaches writing at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Praise For…

“This gripping memoir is every bit as chilling as the darkest Gillian Flynn novel—except this nonfiction account is based entirely on real events…  It's emotional, powerful, and, oddly enough, beautiful.” –Lindsey Eidell, Glamour

Enthralling, thought provoking, and deeply empathic, Visiting Hours explores how loss and trauma affects everyone in its periphery.” –Biographile

“A gripping and poignant memoir.” –Kirkus

“Riveting and visceral.” –Mardi Jo Link, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“I couldn’t put down this April release, Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder, by Amy Butcher. Their senior year at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, Amy’s good friend Kevin walks her home, returns to his apartment and stabs to death his ex-girlfriend. How such a dastardly act affects their friendship – or how it might affect any friendship of our own – kept me riveted.” –Dannye Romine Powell, The Charlotte Observer

“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.” –The New York Times Book Review

“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
Visiting Hours is a mystery of the highest order, not merely a whodunit, as we know from the outset who killed whom, but a mystery of the human heart, exploring the ambiguous motivations of an otherwise gentle man who became a murderer and a young woman who couldn’t stop being his friend. A page turner for its pathos and gorgeous attention to language, a coming of age story like no other, Amy Butcher has written a story of no easy answers and unparalleled sensitivity.” –Robin Hemley,  author of Do Over 
Product Details
ISBN: 9780399183393
ISBN-10: 0399183396
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Pages: 272
Language: English