A highly personal and deeply discomforting memoir of neglect and abuse.

Kuts grew up never knowing want; her parents provided for every need, lavishing her with toys and encouraging her interest in art. But not all was as it seemed; behind closed doors, Kuts’ mother disciplined her with harsh spankings that evolved into beatings. After her parents’ divorce, Kuts’ home life unraveled—the kitchen cupboards went barren, her clothes became threadbare and, most devastatingly, her mother lost interest in parenting. By the age of 12, when the memoir begins, the author is starving, routinely panhandling and stealing from neighbors to quiet her hunger. The home she shares with her brother and neglectful mother, who has taken up inappropriate relationships with teenage boys, is no refuge—parties rage at all hours and drug use is rampant. Kuts battles addiction, survives sexual assault and defends herself against torment, both psychological and physical, at the hands of her mother. The narrative follows the family as it moves from California to Oregon, where Kuts finds herself in an even worse predicament. The extent of the neglect, as well as the horrific depictions of starvation, is almost unfathomable and the description of her abuse is heartbreaking. The fact that Kuts grew from a nearly illiterate child to an accomplished wordsmith in just a dozen year attests to her resilience. She is still very close to her story; though she tells it from a distance of decades, her pain still feels fresh. The meandering book runs long (and remains unfinished—a sequel, Please Don’t Love Me, is to pick up where this book ends), and the real question—why Kuts’ mother turned into a monster—is never resolved. But the book succeeds as therapy for its author—and a reminder to its readers to value the simple things, like shelter, sustenance and familial love.


Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1438212197

Page Count: 354

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?