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Moving recollections of a courageous battle against weight gain and mental illness.

Another graphic dispatch from the food wars, as poet, editor, and now literary agent Lerner details the insidious effects of compulsive eating on the body and psyche.

The second girl in a family that had lost a daughter at the age of two, Lerner (The Forest for the Trees, not reviewed) found consolation in eating for the fact that she was a good student but not popular. Her mother, in deep denial, never mentioned the dead sister and didn’t pressure the adolescent Lerner to lose weight; instead, she pointed out heavy women who dressed well. But Lerner, already convinced she would never have a boyfriend, was desperate to look good and get slim. She attended Overeaters Anonymous, rigorously followed all the recommended steps, and the summer she was 16 went to Israel as a svelte size 6, for the first time in her life “the girl whom the other girls hated.” Boys swarmed around, and she had her first sexual experience, but back at home she started binge-eating, and the weight returned. A psychiatrist diagnosed her as manic-depressive and prescribed medications she soon stopped taking. She went to college and then worked in New York, afflicted by extreme moods and troubling relationships with men. Soon after beginning her MFA at Columbia, a suicidal Lerner was admitted to the New York Psychiatric Institute for six months, an experience she considers pivotal to her future mental health. On her release, she went back to Columbia; another bout of depression led to the prescription of lithium, which has helped to stabilize her moods. Lerner now understands, she writes, that addiction to food is a coping mechanism she developed to deal with life and self-loathing.

Moving recollections of a courageous battle against weight gain and mental illness.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-2183-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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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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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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