A thoughtful, poignant, and candid memoir perfect for Conroy fans.

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PAT CONROY

OUR LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP

An educational consultant and writer recalls his friendship with the late novelist.

Schein (Famous All Over Town, 2014, etc.) first met Pat Conroy (1945-2016) in early 1961 when both were students in Beaufort, South Carolina. Schein was a self-professed cheater who hated school while Conroy was the social and athletic star everyone adored. Yet both were also outsiders. Though a South Carolina native, Schein was a Jew in a majority Christian South, and Conroy was a “military brat” who, until arriving in Beaufort, had moved every year he had been in school. The pair bonded in high school and then deepened their attachment after college when they returned to Beaufort “to dodge the draft and to teach, in that order.” They soon discovered that their anti-racist beliefs and civil rights activism put them at odds with the conservative white power structure in Beaufort, including the board of education. In 1970, the year Schein went to graduate school at Harvard, Conroy lost his job as a teacher at an all-black school for daring to change a curriculum that emphasized obedience to authority rather than learning. While Schein continued his professional pursuits in education, Conroy left teaching to write. His autobiographical first novel, The Great Santini (1976), about the relationship between a son and his abusive military father, made Conroy a household name. But fame and the repressed rage he harbored against his father transformed the mild-mannered Conroy into an alcoholic “word-sniper” and “verbal hitman” who took cruel shots at everyone, including Schein. In 1990, Schein refused to publish a story in a school magazine by Conroy’s stepdaughter that discussed the sexual abuse she had endured from her birth father. Their friendship ended, but the two continued to talk “about each other all the time.” The men reconciled 15 years later and remained close until Conroy died. Honest in its portrayal of both Conroy and Schein’s own conflicted feelings toward the novelist, the lucid narrative deftly explores the complexities of a lifelong friendship.

A thoughtful, poignant, and candid memoir perfect for Conroy fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948924-13-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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BECOMING

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...

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

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