A fine collection that illustrates the author’s credo that “change, if you embrace it, can be surprisingly rewarding.”

Sixty, Still Ticking and Fabulous

In Resich’s debut essay collection, turning 60 looks pretty good.

The Honolulu-based author wrote this debut collection of essays in 60 weeks, she writes, as a way of “finding” herself following an amicable divorce after 30-plus years of marriage. She draws upon six decades of her life, during which she earned a physics degree, worked for the United Nations and raised her children as a full-time housewife. A self-described “chatterbox,” Resich exalts in positive, lively confidences about retirement, memory loss, parents, children, gratitude and other topics, as she pursues her quest to live life with “confidence and resolve.” However, she’s no Pollyanna: “I’m hard-pressed to find anything graceful about aging,” she writes, but she knows that someday she’ll look back at today’s photos and think, “Boy, did I look good.” Some essays show how her grounded perspective helped her deal with cancers of the breast and tongue (and the resulting surgery, chemotherapy and recovery). Let friends help you, she urges: “I could never have envisioned that six hours of chemotherapy could be a fun (albeit unconventional) social time spent with a close friend.” Her advice? Never ignore something that you feel “isn’t right”; the doctor’s diagnosis that it’s “probably nothing,” she says, could easily turn into “something.” Other essays offer tidbits about her teenage years in Poland after World War II, when fashionable clothes were scarce, food had to be hunted, and kids from rich families were derided as “banana youth.” Overall, she writes with conversational grace in an easy-to-read, gossipy-girlfriend style. Her stories only rarely delve into the world beyond the personal, but this isn’t a serious limitation, as she’s someone readers will want to get to know.

A fine collection that illustrates the author’s credo that “change, if you embrace it, can be surprisingly rewarding.”

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1490430720

Page Count: 166

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2014

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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