Heartfelt essays from vibrant American voices.


Writers from diverse ethnic backgrounds ring in on American identity.

Actor and activist Ferrera makes her book debut as editor of this collection of spunky, fresh, and often moving personal essays responding to the question: What do I call an American like me? Because she grew up believing she was “alone in feeling stuck between cultures,” Ferrera sees the book as a way to foster a sense of belonging as well as to celebrate difference. “We live as citizens of a country that does not always claim us or even see us,” she writes, “and yet, we continue to build, to create, and to compel it toward its own promise.” That promise beckoned many writers’ parents or grandparents to make an arduous journey to a new homeland. “For my family,” writes Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, “the American dream wasn’t just a fairy-tale notion or a meaningless phrase. It has always been real and extremely motivating.” Hoping for a bright future for themselves and their children, Kwan’s parents left China, arriving in the U.S. penniless and knowing no English but certain that “if you work hard and take big risks for what you believe in, you can accomplish anything.” They sacrificed time and money to support Kwan’s passion for ice skating. Other writers include comedians Al Madrigal and Kumail Nanjiani, cookbook author and TV host Padma Lakshmi, transgender advocate Geena Rocero, NBA player Jeremy Lin, actor and documentary filmmaker Ravi Patel, gymnast Laurie Hernandez, and composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. Some, bullied and mocked as children, wanted to blend into white America, begging for white-bread sandwiches rather than curry in their lunchboxes. Others flaunted their difference. Growing up in Houston, actress Liza Koshy liked “being racially ambiguous. Forever the ethnically mysterious little brown girl.” She saw her Asian and Latino friends not as a melting pot but a salad bowl, “tossed haphazardly together” to produce “something delicious,” each contributing a “special flavor or texture.”

Heartfelt essays from vibrant American voices.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8091-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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