Eye-opening and insightful.

WHAT MAKES OLGA RUN?

THE MYSTERY OF THE 90-SOMETHING TRACK STAR AND WHAT SHE CAN TEACH US ABOUT LIVING LONGER, HAPPIER LIVES

A Canadian freelance journalist probes the fascinating mystery behind a nonagenarian female’s stunning success as a competitive athlete.

When Olga Kotelko first took up track at age 77, it was simply for fun. But by the time she reached her 90s, the former schoolteacher had become the holder of more than 20 world records, and she was the fastest nonagenarian female in the world. In a book that is part biography and part exploration of the latest research in exercise physiology, gerontology and neuropsychology, Grierson (U-Turn: What If You Woke Up One Morning and Realized You Were Living the Wrong Life?, 2007) grapples with the question of why a little old lady barely 5 feet tall breaks records rather than bones. Science offers answers that are as tantalizing as they are incomplete. For most people, healthy aging boils down to three-quarters good lifestyle and one-quarter good genes. Grierson suggests that Olga’s habits—which include an “an abiding faith in water, reflexology,” intense workouts that target every moving part in her body and personal traits such as extroversion, friendliness and resilience—no doubt help to account for her impressive good health. Her family history, however, does not reveal exceptional longevity nor does it explain where Olga derived her almost freakish physical capabilities. Grierson proposes that the mystery surrounding Olga’s achievements has less to do with her lifestyle and genetic inheritance and more to do with how her particular body has somehow managed to develop mechanisms, which scientists have yet to understand, that have slowed the aging process. Olga’s body may be unique in its age-defying abilities, but her determination to push the limits of her own physicality is what is most inspiring of all, especially to baby boomers like the author. For Grierson, Olga is living proof that “[n]ot only is midlife not too late [to start exercising]…in some ways, it’s the best time to go for it.”

Eye-opening and insightful.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9720-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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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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