If the Michelin guide gave a star to memoirs of a life in food, Sánchez rates at least a pair.

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WHERE I COME FROM

LIFE LESSONS FROM A LATINO CHEF

Sánchez (Simple Food, Big Flavor, 2011, etc.) plates a taster's menu of personal and professional influences, not to mention a few culinary travails, in a memoir infused with succulence, revelation, and ethnic pride.

Son of a gustatory pioneer, the author is a seasoned chef, restaurateur, and TV personality (currently seen on MasterChef) whose Latin roots run deep. Born in El Paso, nurtured in New York, and now based in New Orleans, he shot to international fame as a regular on the Food Network. This chronicle of an adventurous life in and out of the kitchen is a love letter not just to expansive pan-Latin cuisine, but to the power of food to bring cultures together and discover the most nourishing qualities of each. The book is also a cautionary tale for the higher reaches of a hospitality industry often distracted by inessentials, risky behavior, and the traps of celebrity. Throughout the well-constructed narrative (which includes recipes), the writing is crisp, candid, and rich with emotion, the latter ingredient applied liberally. The author’s account of the evolution of Food Network is especially flavorsome. But Sánchez reserves much room in the pot for an inward and outward journey of self-exploration as a man of two worlds, Mexican and American. The “life lessons” of the subtitle are not original—whose are?—but they are certainly valid for those in the food industry struggling to balance family and sanity with workload and opportunity, and they are no less instructive for aspiring chefs or those dealing with chronic depression and anxiety. With a soupçon of sympathy, Sánchez can even make the painful palatable. Occasionally, the narrative is somewhat repetitive, and, though trivial, a too-liberal use of the F-word might be off-putting for some readers. Nonetheless, the author offers readers a delicious reading experience.

If the Michelin guide gave a star to memoirs of a life in food, Sánchez rates at least a pair.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3802-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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