A moving, greatly ruminative, cathartic autobiography.



A child abuse survivor recounts a youth mired in rigid fundamentalist rule and a resultant dysfunctional adulthood.  

“I was raised by hippies turned Jesus freaks,” writes author and motivational speaker Finnola of her parents, whose fanatical behavior dramatically changed direction when she was a young girl. Her harrowing debut memoir begins with early recollections of parents who cooked everything from scratch and rummaged through thrift store bins to clothe her and her sister. The family abandoned the Midwest for San Francisco once her parents became staunch followers of what the author describes as an “ecumenical, fundamentalist, charismatic, evangelical Christian cult.” At age 8, she attended her first prayer meeting, and from there, became drowned in religious dogma, apocalyptic beliefs, regular beatings, and constant distress that her sins “made me vile” in God’s sight. She was taught that secular culture was sinful, and was home-schooled in eighth grade. After college, she met and married a closeted gay man, and during their decades-long relationship, she endured cruel degradation, verbal abuse, and misery so extreme she rebelled with excessive smoking, overeating, extramarital affairs, and a barrage of antidepressant medication. Vividly written and often difficult to read, the memoir is a raw, intensive chronicle of a bleak life yet also forms a true testament to the durability of the human spirit and how perseverance and self-love can work wonders and renew a broken soul. Finnola’s 30s and early 40s admittedly became her darkest days as she embraced her “victim identity” and contemplated suicide, even though a spiritual teacher she’d met and a support group helped buoy her. Her betrayal and anger at her duplicitous marriage are palpable and repeatedly addressed. Her ultimate recovery in mind, body, and spirit took many years as the author eventually vanquished her “inner terrorist” and forgave herself enough to begin the arduous journey to rebuild her self-esteem, embrace motherhood to two daughters, and love again. The author is proud to write that she is now “healthy, happy, and whole,” and the book’s subtitle describing Finnola is fitting and suits this epiphanic, unsettling, and still-evolving life story well.

A moving, greatly ruminative, cathartic autobiography.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5043-9656-1

Page Count: 222

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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