Uninspiring but sure to receive media attention.




An impulsive young female boxing enthusiast stumbles through the sordid milieu of professional compulsive gambling.

Raymer’s background is certainly improbable. A onetime “private stripper,” she followed up her gaming adventures with a Columbia MFA and a Fulbright Scholarship. She nostalgically recalls her earliest experiences with games of chance alongside her father, a flashy used-car salesman. “Though gambling caused many fights between my mom and dad,” she writes, “I associated it with some of the happiest memories of my childhood.” In Las Vegas, Raymer worked for Dink, an overweight, slovenly “professional sports gambler.” She quickly became enamored with the business and with her own aptitude for the minutiae of receiving odds and placing bets with various sports books. The author found Dink inexplicably fascinating, despite the fact that Dink’s wife considered her a threat, even when Dink abruptly fired her, a loss that caused her to take up boxing. “Dink’s absence and rejection had created a void,” she writes. “Boxing was the most challenging thing I’d ever done. It gave me the discipline I had been craving since I had no professional life to speak of.” Later, Raymer traveled to Curaçao with Bernard, similar to Dink but more compulsive and hysterical. Bernard set up an offshore wagering operation that quickly caromed from instant success to insolvency. Raymer remained unfazed. The author’s prose style is sharp, but her memoir is morally tone deaf. The author strains mightily to present her gambling associates as colorful iconoclasts rather than creeps, yet she seems unable to perceive the financial harm they visit upon peoples’ lives and families. This material might have led to striking literary journalism, but Raymer’s preoccupation with herself—she details several PG-13 romantic affairs, which have little effect on her gambling obsession—renders it trite. The ending leaves various narrative threads unresolved, as Raymer literally runs away from her problems to Rio de Janeiro.

Uninspiring but sure to receive media attention.

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-52645-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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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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