A sobering and revelatory account of a family tragedy unfolding over many years.

TEST OF FAITH

SURVIVING MY DAUGHTER'S LIFE SENTENCE

A mother recounts her struggle to maintain her belief in God in the face of her daughter’s life sentence in this inspirational memoir.

Debut author Hirst thought she was doing everything right. A devout Christian from a young age, she married her high school sweetheart, moved to a small Washington town to raise a family, and eventually opened two restaurants with her husband, Ron. God appeared to smile on her and her family. Then her 35-year-old daughter, Lacey, was sentenced to life without parole for hiring someone to kill her husband’s pregnant girlfriend. “Courtroom activity fades into the background as I query myself: Did I not pray correctly?” remembers the author. “Did I not believe enough in His power? Why has God forsaken my family and me?” Leading up to the trial, Hirst had been certain of her daughter’s innocence and eventual acquittal despite the widespread assumption that Lacey was guilty. Afterward, the author wasn’t sure of anything. This book is an account of how Hirst learned to be a mother to a woman permanently imprisoned, stepping in to raise Lacey’s children and supporting her daughter from the outside. It is also the story of a woman forced to restart her relationship with God from scratch. Hirst’s prose is quietly emotional and often powerful, as here when she describes her anxiety during Lacey’s long trial: “The unknown hung over me like a tornado funnel in the distance. I didn’t know where or how violently it might touch down. I cleaned closets, junk drawers, and file cabinets. By organizing unseen chaos, I attempted to regain order in my life.” The case itself—and the author’s relationship to it—is deeply engrossing while the book’s religious element is actually quite light. Hirst’s nightmare situation will be sympathetic to any reader. It is truly her quagmire—not Lacey’s—in which the audience will become ensnared. By the end, the author manages to get to a place that feels somehow redemptive, leaving readers to wonder whether they would be able to make it there as well. 

A sobering and revelatory account of a family tragedy unfolding over many years.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-594-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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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

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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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