A GOOD ENOUGH DAUGHTER

A MEMOIR

A tender memoir about caring for her aging parents from an author better known for fiery feminism (Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, 1972, etc.). Shulman’s most recent book, Drinking the Rain (1995), reflected on the rewards of retreat to an island in Maine. This narrative takes her back to Cleveland, where she left her family more than 40 years ago to begin a fight for independence that would take her through three husbands and two children of her own. But as Shulman makes clear, her flight was not away from an unhappy childhood——I had always felt cherished by my parents,” she says—but from ties so strong that she had to physically remove herself in order to separate from them. Her brother’s death and her mother’s subsequent deterioration brought the author home, where she found satisfaction in daughterly duties. Her parents finally ensconced in a senior residence, Shulman began to probe the past, aware that her father had been impotent, her mother had taken lovers, her brother had resented her (she never does get a handle on that uncertain relationship). But her lawyer father had also earned a place in a historical-society archive for his labor arbitration decisions; her mother had made herself into “an eight-course banquet” of family, music, and travel and was an early collector of artists like Stella, de Kooning, Nevelson, and more. The author alternates dips into her childhood with stories of time spent with her parents in the nursing home, where she redeems whatever pain may have gone before by accepting and understanding who they have become: incontinent, sometimes incoherent, often unpredictable, but still the remarkable individuals who shaped her. Loving and accurate description of the author’s rollover from dependent child to caretaker child, and of the parents who continued to fashion themselves in old age as they had throughout their lives. (b&w photos)

Pub Date: April 2, 1999

ISBN: 0-8052-4161-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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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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BECOMING

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...

NIGHT

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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