A candid and moving memoir.




A distinguished NPR journalist’s account of how the concept of the American dream gave her the chance to succeed while simultaneously destroying her immigrant family.

Shahani’s parents met as Indian Partition refugees in Morocco. In 1981, they came to America and settled in a multiethnic Queens neighborhood, “one of the most diverse tracts of land on the planet.” There, her family’s “most aggressive war” was not with members of other cultural “tribes” but with vermin in their apartment. Optimistic that they would soon succeed, they experienced their first disappointment when the author’s father, a “big brain” man, had to settle for manual labor. He left the family to work with brothers in Dubai, returning only when Shahani’s mother became disabled after a freak accident. Their fortunes changed soon after her father collected money from relatives and opened an electronics store. His hard work allowed them to move into a house in New Jersey and live a comfortable middle-class life. In the meantime, Shahani became “Nerd Girl,” winning a scholarship to the prestigious Brearley School in Manhattan. Her connections eventually landed her a well-paying summer job that, unlike those her father had taken when he first arrived in America, “came with a desk, a computer…a view,” and a good wage. Everything changed when the author was in 12th grade. Her father had been arrested and sent to prison for mistakenly selling merchandise to a drug cartel. As her father struggled, Shahani’s grades dropped. Though she found a place at the University of Chicago, her faith in both the American dream and the justice system was shattered. Becoming an active seeker of social justice, the author spent the next 15 years using her connections and journalistic savvy to help exonerate her father. Barely escaping deportation, he finally became an American citizen only to die shortly afterward. As it chronicles immigrant tragedy and triumph, this provocative book also reveals the dark underside of the American judicial system and the many pitfalls for people of color within a landscape of white privilege.

A candid and moving memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20475-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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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...


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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