An intriguing memoir from a girl who’s become a cultural icon.

THE EAGLE HUNTRESS

THE TRUE STORY OF THE GIRL WHO SOARED BEYOND EXPECTATIONS

The Mongolian teen whose surprising 2014 win at the Golden Eagle Festival was charted in a 2016 documentary retells the story, expanding on her family’s nomadic Kazakh culture and the changes success has brought.

Nurgaiv’s grandfather and others secretly maintained the ancient Kazakh tradition of hunting with eagles, banned in Soviet-era Mongolia, teaching it to their sons. Watching their father teach her brother, Nurgaiv—calm, competitive, athletic—longed to learn herself. Nine years younger, born after many failed pregnancies, she was literally raised with eagles. She relates how she persuaded her parents, found her eaglet, trained and hunted with her, and entered and won the competition. Interwoven with this account is the story of a changing Mongolia amid a changing world. Before Nurgaiv’s training began, tourists—trekkers, journalists, photographers, a filmmaker—came to observe her family, whose livelihood derived in part from their visits. Each milestone on Nurgaiv’s eagle-huntress journey has been documented and shaped, as here, for an audience of outsiders. (Responding to past critiques, Nurgaiv here acknowledges that women eagle hunters competed in Kazakhstan before she did and downplays male opposition she faced.) Mediated by Welch and in translation, Nurgaiv’s voice is inconsistent. While expressions of clichéd adolescent excitement over her celebrity status feel somewhat manufactured, Nurgaiv’s love for and pride in her homeland, culture, and family come through with quiet, persuasive power.

An intriguing memoir from a girl who’s become a cultural icon. (glossary) (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52261-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).

UGLY

A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Involving from "the end of my lovely world" to the end of exile (when the Rudomins, as Jews, were jeered in Poland), this is...

THE ENDLESS STEPPE

GROWING UP IN SIBERIA

To Esther Rudomin at eleven Siberia meant the metaphor: isolation, criminals and cruel punishment, snow and wolves; but even in Siberia there is satisfaction from making a friend of a prickly classmate, from seeing a Deanna Durbin movie four times, from earning and studying and eventually belonging.

Especially in Siberia, where not wolves but hunger and dirt and cold are endemic, where shabbiness and overcrowding are taken for granted, where unselfishness is exceptional. At the heart of Mrs. Hautzig's memoir of four years as a Polish deportee in Russia during World War II is not only hardihood and adaptability but uniquely a girl like any other. Abruptly seized in their comfortable home in Vilna, Esther and her family, are shipped in cattle cars to Rubtsovsk in the Altai Territory, work as slave laborers in a gypsum mine until amnesty, then are "permitted" lobs and lodging in the village--if someone will take them in. After sleeping on the floor, a wooden platform is very welcome; after sharing a room with two other families, a separate dung hut seems a homestead. Then Esther goes to school, the greatest boon, and, to her mother's horror, wants to be like the Siberians....Deprivation does not make Esther grim: the saddest day of her life is her father's departure for a labor brigade at the front, her sharpest bitterness is for the bland viciousness of individuals.

Involving from "the end of my lovely world" to the end of exile (when the Rudomins, as Jews, were jeered in Poland), this is a beautiful book with no bar to wide acceptance (and a rich non-juvenile jacket by Nonny Hogrogian). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 15, 1968

ISBN: 978-0-06-447027-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: T.Y. Crowell

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1968

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