A delectable feast of the heart.

A professor and journalist’s engaging account of how being an urban forager in New York City led her to unexpected personal enlightenment.

As a child growing up in 1970s Queens, New York Times “Wild Edibles” columnist Chin (Creative Nonfiction/CUNY; Split: Stories from a Generation Raised on Divorce, 2002) loved nothing better than to root around in the soil near her single mother’s apartment or savor the delicious foods her Chinese-born grandfather prepared in his kitchen. Yet the “lessons on life” she learned came from neither her mother nor her grandfather. Instead, they came from a feisty, loving grandmother who helped Chin weather painful emotional storms that resulted from rocky parental and romantic relationships. By the time Chin reached her late 30s, she turned her early love of digging in the dirt into a serious interest in urban foraging. The deeper she ventured into her interests, however, the more her grandmother’s health, and the author’s personal life, began to decline. Faced with the loss of the woman who had taken “the place of mother in [her] heart” and the possibility of permanent singledom, Chin began reflecting on her life and the people in it. She and her often self-absorbed mother “acted as if…there was never enough time or love or money to go around to sustain us.” Yet the natural world was a place of abundance where all things were possible, and while life was a series of stages that eventually culminated in death, to appreciate it meant seeing all things as attempts to cope with the at-times hostile “wilderness of the city.” As she hunted the urban wilds of NYC for motherwort, mulberries and mushrooms, Chin not only cultivated acceptance, but also discovered an even more tantalizing prize: love. Interspersed throughout with delicious urban forager recipes, Chin’s book delights as it informs and inspires.

A delectable feast of the heart.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4516-5619-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014


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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