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An informative and moving recollection, despite some overly precious prose.

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A woman recounts a decision to pre-empt cancer by surgical means.

In 2008, debut author Shainman’s older sister, Jan (whom she affectionately calls “Sista”), was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer. After several rounds of chemotherapy, Sista’s cancers went into remission, but at a later conference on ovarian cancer, she learned she was especially vulnerable to a recurrence. She underwent genetic testing that revealed that she was “BRCA1 positive,” meaning she had a genetic mutation that significantly increased the chances of contracting breast or ovarian cancer. Shainman quickly decided to get tested, as well, and discovered that she also carried the mutation. This presented her with an achingly difficult choice: Should she strategically choose to undergo prophylactic surgical procedures (bilateral mastectomy, breast reconstruction, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, and hysterectomy), or take her chances, and avoid elective, risky operations? The author’s remembrance is unconventionally eclectic; she includes correspondence with friends and family, journal entries and text exchanges, and a lengthy discussion of her view that she’s gifted with a type of emotional “telepathy.” She chronicles not only her own struggle and her sister’s plight, but also her husband’s work colleague’s cancer fight. Also, as her family’s historian, she determines that her paternal grandmother, Lillian, certainly died from breast cancer. Shainman’s memoir is poignantly inspirational throughout; she later writes that she eventually became an advocate for BRCA awareness, and even executive-produced a movie about it in 2015 called Pink & Blue. In addition, she provides sensible information about medical due-diligence, especially involving genetic testing. However, her prose can be cutesy at times, as when she sizes up her anchorman husband’s co-worker: “So, this dazzling woman is whom my husband has been hanging out with on the news set in the middle of the night and early morning? Argh!

An informative and moving recollection, despite some overly precious prose.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4808-6708-6

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

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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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