A wise, moving meditation on the meaning of family, identity and fate.

LUCKY GIRL

A MEMOIR

Buenos Aires-based journalist Hopgood looks back at her reconnection with the Chinese parents who gave her up for adoption.

After arriving from Taiwan as a baby in 1974, the author lived an all-American life in the Michigan suburbs with two adoring parents and two adopted Korean brothers. She had recently graduated from college and started work as a reporter at the Detroit Free Press in 1995, when she met the nun who had arranged her adoption. Sister Maureen persuaded the initially reluctant Hopgood to make contact with her birth family, and correspondence eventually led to a 1997 visit to Taiwan. An imperious father, a docile mother, six chattering sisters and an adopted brother welcomed her. She reveled in the intimacy of sisterhood and the cacophony of an extended family, and its secrets unfolded over time. Her biological father was obsessed with having a son, as Chinese tradition dictated. But the baby girls kept coming, so he pressured his wife to put up two of them for adoption—Hopgood and a younger sister who ended up in Switzerland. The boy they adopted in hopes that he would continue the family name was mentally impaired by a childhood fever. (When the author visited, he was still living at home, with few prospects for marriage.) After that, Hopgood learned, the father brought another woman to live with them, but she didn’t bear a son either and eventually left. On a visit in 2004, the author had another shock. Her father had recently confessed to having a son with yet another woman, now dying of cancer, and bullied his wife into allowing the boy to live with them. Hopgood grew to love her sisters, but she had a harder time with her deeply flawed father and maddeningly passive mother; she still thought of her adoptive parents as her true mom and dad. She writes with humor and grace about her efforts to understand how biology, chance, choice and love intersect to delineate a life.

A wise, moving meditation on the meaning of family, identity and fate.

Pub Date: April 28, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56512-600-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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