A vivid chronicle of a daughter’s struggle to find herself.




A memoir about a charismatic mother who embroiled her daughter in a dramatic affair.

In a candid, deftly crafted narrative, Brodeur (Man Camp, 2005), co-founder of the magazine Zoetrope: All Story, reveals the family secrets that burdened her life from the age of 14, when she became her mother’s confidante and accomplice in a love affair. Her mother was an attractive, charming woman, “a breath of fresh air, an irresistible combination of clever and irreverent,” and the author worshipped her. Although the lover was a close and long-standing family friend and the affair betrayed her kind and beloved stepfather’s trust, Brodeur willingly helped her mother cover her tracks and distract others from noticing the couple’s disappearances, covert touching, and secret glances. For years, she felt thrilled by her role and deeply sympathetic to her mother’s needs for love and sex. After her stepfather had suffered several strokes, her mother felt more like a caretaker than a wife. She confided in her daughter that she needed more—and she needed her daughter’s support. Brodeur was flattered by her mother’s dependence on her, and when she traveled during a gap year, she called home weekly, feeling guilty “for not being more supportive” by phoning more often. Not until she shared her story with a new boyfriend—and later with a woman friend and her future husband (who, bizarrely, was her mother’s lover’s son)—did the author realize that someone outside of the family would see the arrangement far differently. “I felt confused,” she writes, “suddenly thrust into a state of disequilibrium” by listeners who saw her mother “as perpetrator, not victim.” Admitting that her mother’s behavior was abusive made her feel “an unbearable sense of disloyalty.” Her need to separate herself from her mother grew, however; in college, she tried to create a new identity, different from someone “so consumed by her mother that she hardly knew where her mother ended and she began.” That project defined her life for years to come.

A vivid chronicle of a daughter’s struggle to find herself.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-51903-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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