An absorbing story, still fresh from the pain of adoption and loss.

SEARCHING FOR THE CASTLE

A woman’s ardent odyssey to retrace her path from foster care to adoption, reconstructed through court documents and annotated with honest musings on how and why her family fell apart.

Though adopted at age 5, Ohrstrom begins her debut memoir in adolescence, when her twin brother pulled from the fog of their dysfunctional childhood the siblings’ birth surname. This single clue set off the author’s journey to find their birth parents: The story takes the tone of a detailed diary, with the same events rehashed at several points. Ohrstrom struggled to uncover information about her birth family and to understand the distance she felt from her siblings, who didn’t share the same desire to learn about their past. The narrator cycled through angst, betrayal and eventual acceptance. Unfortunately, significant events are left unexamined, in particular the decision to run away from her adoptive family. Given the great lengths Ohrstrom goes to explain the arc of her family’s saga before her birth and during her childhood, there are wide gaps in her own history. The sections lump together therapylike entries and official letters written to various government agencies with document requests. The narrator makes some attempt to use these documents as guideposts, tethering to reality her stream-of-consciousness responses, especially the reactions to her mother’s hospital records from her various stays at mental institutions during the 1950s and ’60s. But at times, the re-creations of Ohrstrom’s discovery process read like scenes from a television crime drama, revelatory in a flamboyant way, with projections about her parents’ personalities and motives serving as a way to explain what happened to her.

An absorbing story, still fresh from the pain of adoption and loss.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1491713075

Page Count: 178

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more