A former prostitute’s inspiring transformation, ably told.


Nobody's Girl


A woman describes how she was drawn into exploitative sex work as a young teenager and her difficult transition back to a normal life in this memoir.

“Kick me hard with those sexy boots,” pleaded the man who was 13-year-old Amaya’s introduction to prostitution. Amaya (The Destiny of Zoe Carpenter, 2013) grew up in the 1960s in suburban Fairfax, Virginia, leading a fairly ordinary life until she was 10, when, she recounts, her father and then brother began molesting her. On her 12th birthday, she ran away for the first of many times, then began taking drugs: “they made my bad memories and feelings disappear.” She wound up in New York City with a pimp named Moses. Lonely, young, and needy, Amaya had no resistance to Moses’ combination of praise, protection, and warmth mixed with brutal beatings to keep her in line. After some years of prostitution, addiction to heroin, jail terms, and beatings, she left Moses, reconnected somewhat with her family, and detoxed through a methadone clinic. Gaining confidence in small steps, Amaya re-entered the straight world. She married and had a daughter (later leaving her husband, she recalls, because of his violence and drinking), opened a day care center, and survived a cancer bout. Her daughter’s teenage years, and increasing media attention to sex trafficking spurred Amaya to tell her whole story, help young girls like herself, and clear her criminal record of juvenile charges. In this honest, thoughtful, and powerful memoir, Amaya describes (with often heartbreaking clarity) how easy it is for a confused, hurting girl to get caught up in a pimp’s false offers of love and caretaking. Stories of this type tend to end when someone is released from trafficking, but Amaya puts a useful spotlight on the difficulties of going straight: “Growing up on the streets of New York had turned me into an adult even while part of me remained a child, frozen in time.” Her courage in facing adult life with only a sixth-grade education is commendable, and while her account is sometimes harrowing, Amaya never tugs heartstrings unnecessarily or exhibits self-pity.

A former prostitute’s inspiring transformation, ably told. 

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9912550-2-3

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Animal Media Group

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2016

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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