A somewhat uneven memoir, but new mothers may benefit from its information about a serious health issue.

Dancing on the Edge of Sanity

In her debut memoir, Rouds tells the story of her struggle with postpartum mood disorder.

Many women are ashamed to discuss their bouts with post-childbirth depression and anxiety, writes Rouds, and she hopes to help eradicate the stigma by recounting her own difficult experiences. When the author was pregnant with her son, she and her husband eagerly anticipated a happy family life against the idyllic backdrop of Vermont’s snowcapped mountains. What they didn’t expect after the baby’s birth was Rouds’ fragile emotional health. She became hypersensitive to sound and visualized frightening mental images, or “intrusive thoughts,” such as baby John drowning in the bathtub or burning in a pellet stove. Feeling overwhelmed and desperately wanting some sleep, Rouds checked herself into a hospital, where she was placed on suicide watch. Afterward, one of her midwives talked her into admitting herself to a mental institution. Her stay at the institution is perhaps the most compelling part of the story, but it’s also the most puzzling, as she only stayed for 24 hours. The psychiatrist later said her postnatal anxiety problems were hormonal, but she did not need to be hospitalized. Ultimately, the author was helped by taking the antidepressant Zoloft, getting the right amount of sleep, following a proper diet, writing in her journal, getting family support and exercising. Although Rouds wasn’t cured overnight, her awareness of the condition made her intrusive thoughts and anxiety easier to control. The strength of Rouds’ account is her straightforward, honest voice (“If I tell someone I’m feeling anxious, will they lock me away again?”). It doesn’t always present the author in a favorable light, but it does effectively humanize her; for example, her anger at being woken up by family members staying at her house to help her may seem a bit childish, but readers will find it understandable. There are some extraneous personal details that slow the story’s flow, such as a description of a trip the author took before she gave birth, but this mostly energetic memoir has useful knowledge at its heart.

A somewhat uneven memoir, but new mothers may benefit from its information about a serious health issue.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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...

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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