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EMPTY HANDS, A MEMOIR

ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY TO SAVE CHILDREN ORPHANED BY AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA

A brief, genuine, heartfelt memoir of an awe-inspiring life.

A South African nurse’s memoir of how she escaped grinding poverty to become a beloved advocate for and caretaker of homeless children.

Ntleko grew up the youngest of 12 children in Harding, a tiny village in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. When her mother died, relatives took in her youngest siblings while her older sisters married or found work. At age 6, she found herself alone to care for herself and her alcoholic father. Working as a laundress and, later, a field hand, and with no time to make friends her age, the author's main source of moral support came from an English missionary worker, who taught Ntleko the lesson that would become her life mantra: “if you want to be of help and service to others…get an education.” At 14, she began school, against the wishes of her tradition-bound father. Getting only a few hours of sleep each night, she worked tirelessly to make her dreams come true. She even ran away from home to earn the money her father could not give her to continue her studies. Ntleko was 28 when she graduated from high school and began her training as a nurse. Yet it was not until she adopted the first of many children a few years later that she realized her true calling was to help homeless youngsters. Ntleko tackled the challenges of single parenthood in the 1960s; more than a decade later, she found herself tackling the even greater challenge of the AIDS crisis. She eventually founded two organizations, Clouds of Hope and Kulungile, dedicated to providing shelter for children from AIDS-affected families. Ntleko’s story, which she tells in simple language, is inspiring and moving. She neither dwells on nor dramatizes the hardships she has faced, preferring instead to focus on “fill[ing] her hands with love and then spend[ing] all that love until [her] hands are empty again.”

A brief, genuine, heartfelt memoir of an awe-inspiring life.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1583949320

Page Count: 176

Publisher: North Atlantic

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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NIGHT

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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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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