An affectingly honest account of what it means to watch helplessly as a loved one suffers: a timely addition to the...

READ REVIEW

IT TAKES A WORRIED MAN

A MEMOIR

A husband’s frank, conflicted recollections of coping with his young wife’s stage-four breast cancer.

Brendan, a Boston high-school English teacher, and wife Kirsten are both 32 when she is diagnosed in September 2000. They have a three-year-old daughter, Rowen, they’ve just moved into a new house, and life so far has been pretty good. But the cancer has spread to Kirsten’s spine, so before they perform a mastectomy her doctors advise chemotherapy. Brendan describes Kirsten’s rounds of treatments (he shaves off his hair when she loses hers), his efforts at parenting, and his occasionally difficult relations with his mother and his in-laws, who are trying to help but have needs of their own. His story alternates heartbreaking moments of despair (a round of chemotherapy that doesn’t work) with inspiring affirmations of love and life (a birthday party that fills their small house with supportive friends). Brendan is beguilingly frank about his fears and failings: his father died suddenly when he was nine, which has made him a hypochondriac fearful of death; he admits that he finds it easier to work than to stay home with his convalescing wife; and he does notice pretty women, though he is resolutely and lovingly faithful. At his Unitarian church, he wrestles with questions of faith, of good and evil; not always certain about God, he is deeply appreciative of fellow churchgoers who clean and pitch in when he needs them. Video games, music, and movies also help a little. Brendan admits that, although Kirsten has survived chemo, he is writing a story with a choice of possible endings, most unhappy. His prose is breezy, his attitudes hip, but he vividly describes real anguish and fears.

An affectingly honest account of what it means to watch helplessly as a loved one suffers: a timely addition to the literature of disease.

Pub Date: March 12, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-50716-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

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

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

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...

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

Did you like this book?

more