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Gracefully recounted using family recollections and photos, the author plumbs the narrative with a humane and clear-eyed...

Revisiting her family story first introduced in Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (2001), Fuller (The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, 2008, etc.) employs her mother’s exceptional life as a pivot point for chronicling her parent’s perseverance overcoming personal tragedies and the political chaos of mid-20th-century Africa.

The golden-hued life of white settlers in Kenya, ensured by the trappings of the British empire, was already a mirage by the mid 1960s when Fuller’s parents married. In 1964, the Republic of Kenya was born, ending white rule. For several years, the young couple lived idyllic lives, but the political climate was deteriorating. Like many “jittery settlers” Fuller’s grandparents sold their farm and returned to Britain, never to return to Africa. Fuller’s mother was devastated, and she and the author’s father remained but “receded further and further south as African countries in the north gained their independence.” The family resettled into a new home in Rhodesia, but a family tragedy soon found them, precipitating the family’s relocation to England, where the author was born. The dreary, rain-soaked island held little appeal for the family; Fuller’s mother recalls, “We longed for the warmth and freedom, the real open spaces, the wild animals, the sky at night.” After returning to Africa and borrowing money for a farm in Rhodesia, the family found themselves engulfed by civil war. After another devastating family loss catapulted Fuller’s mother into a cascade of breakdowns, their luck turned when the Zambian government issued them a 99-year lease on a farm. During a 2010 visit, Fuller’s parents were happy and at peace, their farm “a miracle of productivity, order and routine.”

Gracefully recounted using family recollections and photos, the author plumbs the narrative with a humane and clear-eyed gaze—a lush story, largely lived within a remarkable place and time.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59420-299-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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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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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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