A hefty tableau of beautifully gnashed teeth.

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JERUSALEM

A FAMILY PORTRAIT

This ambitious graphic novel traces the chaotic, bloody early history of the modern Jewish state in Palestine, focusing on a fractious family living in the hotly contested city of Jerusalem.

In April 1945, the Halabys live in the motley Machane Yehuda neighborhood of British Jerusalem. After inheriting property from his late father, kind, soft-spoken patriarch Izak now lives in a modest apartment with no-nonsense Jewish-Egyptian wife Emily and their four sons and lone daughter (and, eventually, a down-on-their luck family Izak takes pity on, much to Emily’s chagrin). Idealistic, artistic Avraham joins the Communist Party, under the leadership of noble Elias Habash, urging class solidarity between Jew and Arab alike. With Avraham returned from serving overseas with the Jewish brigade of the British army, dutiful David now enlists, devastating young Motti. Defiant Ezra delivers telegrams—and anti-British propaganda, journeying deeper into violent insurgency. Fearless, intelligent scamp Motti is best friends and classmates with cousin Jonathan, whose wealthy father, Yakov, deeply resents Motti’s father—his own brother. Bashful Devorah struggles with self-esteem as the world around her falls apart, though Jonathan insists she’s the most beautiful girl in the neighborhood. Through perils large and small—military occupation, suppression of Jewish identity, labor protests, internecine disputes, theater productions, open warfare—the family and city spiral into darkness, drenched in blood, as kindness and honor fail to overcome perceived slights. This dense work of nearly 400 pages offers almost no narration, save the opening six pages (map, condensed textual histories, illustrated family tree) that serve as a legend to be flipped back to time and again as the complex tale whirls mercilessly toward an intercut montage worthy of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather. Filmmaker and author Yakin (Marathon, 2012, etc.) doesn’t offer an easy read—the story is unapologetically larger than its pages—or any easy answers, which is bittersweetly appropriate given the subject matter. Bertozzi’s (Lewis & Clark, 2011, etc.) clean lines and deceptively cartoonish art deftly capture everything, from subtle emotion to human dismemberment.

A hefty tableau of beautifully gnashed teeth.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-575-9

Page Count: 402

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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