An eloquent, provocative, and timely memoir.

A noted Palestinian journalist links her story as a woman born to subvert social norms to the story of her rebellious birthplace, Gaza.

Born in the Rafah refugee camp in 1982, al-Ghoul’s “strong-minded” ways manifested by age 5, when she yelled at a taxi driver for driving off with a favorite hat. The author's outspokenness eventually made her, in the eyes of both men and women, an inappropriate match for the young men she loved. Because she was under near-constant surveillance by the Muslim community and a family that, on her father's side, had close ties to Hamas, Gaza became a place of contradiction for her. While it surrounded the author in warmth, it also made her “suffer.” In 1990, she and her family moved to the Emirates, where, immersed in a Pan-Arabic culture, al-Ghoul witnessed how people spread an oppressive, “obscurantist model” of Islam that eventually made it back to individual Arab countries. She also watched as Yasser Arafat pledged allegiance to Saddam Hussein, which provoked outrage among Emirati authorities toward Palestinians. When al-Ghoul was 16, the family returned to Gaza. Told to cover herself and limit her interactions with boys, she became rebellious. Her father threatened to cut off fees if she attended a secular university; unwilling to bend to his wishes, she took a job to support herself and began to write. As a journalist who critiqued not only Israeli occupiers, but also Hamas—including the uncle she held responsible for killing members of the rival Fatah party, which she also opposed—the author quickly earned the reputation as a “corrupt [and] indecent woman” and became the target of death threats. That her personal life included marriages to and divorces from two Arab intellectuals only added fuel to the controversy surrounding her. Fierce and defiant, al-Ghoul’s book is as much a celebration of Gazan resilience in the face of raging internal and external conflicts as it is of one woman’s life-affirming strength of will.

An eloquent, provocative, and timely memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9987770-5-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: DoppelHouse Press

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018


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



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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