The Journey of Uncovery

A roughly constructed work but one that never lacks honesty.

Debut author de Carvalho offers a semiautobiographical novel about a young woman’s perilous journey from Africa to Europe.

Growing up in the African nation of Angola, Luciana faces a difficult home life with an abusive father and a country engulfed in violent civil war. Her daily struggle is painfully real: “At home; it was always beatings, blows, shouting ‘can’t do that, can’t do this, can’t smile, can’t play, can’t joke with one another.’ ” When she’s nine, she and her family leave Angola for France before eventually finding asylum in the United Kingdom. However, Luciana still can’t escape the difficulties of her own family. Throughout it all, however, she “refused to be hurt and become a victim; I also had my own strong character and will which; I never lost.” She also garners strength from a belief in God: “I knew and believed in GOD’s plan for my life, and I still believe and know that there is much more for me from GOD almighty.” Overall, her story is one of perseverance, and she gleans a host of life lessons from her experiences, such as when she comes to the aid of a friend: “judge the situation first; don’t be always just say yes.” However, readers will find that navigating the prose can prove challenging, as some passages are awkwardly phrased, including this description of life in England: “For many years since the family eloped to the UK seeking political asylum my father did not work, actually since he escaped from my country even when; good jobs opportunity came his way he shattered it and chose to live off benefits.” The challenges of the text are not without pleasures, though, such as when a horrible smell is described as being “as loud as a Lion roaring wild noise.” The book is enlivened with smatterings of Portuguese, and although the convergence of languages isn’t seamless, the authentic feel of the work is beyond question. It’s an undeniably personal, if unpolished, account of the refugee experience that takes readers to places they won’t expect to go.

A roughly constructed work but one that never lacks honesty.

Pub Date: March 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5049-9979-3

Page Count: 168

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016


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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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