A confidently told but not wholly inspiring memoir.




A young Latino man recounts his coming-of-age amid the usual foibles inherent in growing up.

In his debut memoir, writer/actor Gómez brings his one-man show to the page, exploring issues of fear, forgiveness, sexuality and what it means to be a man. A self-described “middle-class, racist, light-skinned Latino,” the author often employs race as a lens through which to view his world. After an early childhood spent overseas, Gómez returned to a race-conscious America and became increasingly aware of issues regarding race. “During basketball games, at first I would be treated like everyone else, but when the referee heard someone call me Carlos, he would make tighter calls on me,” he writes. Gómez’s complaints are hardly limited to the basketball court, but soon included the failures of various schools, none of which seemed to give Gómez the support he required. The book becomes far more engaging when the author considers his own role in his life’s choices, reflecting on the hard questions. He concludes that while he was occasionally a victim of the world’s biases, oftentimes he played the part of the perpetrator as well, particularly in regard to his relationships with women. Gómez’s straight-talk approach to his philandering (as well as his obvious regret) becomes the highlight of the book, a strand of narrative that seems to absolve him of past trespasses. A greater trespass, however, is Gómez’s seemingly conscious choice to awkwardly assemble his life story to fit a storyline—a trick he often employed to impress women. “I am a pimp,” Gómez admits, speaking of his past relationships, “one who conveniently coopted this narrative throughout his life, on frequent occasion, and exploited the act of honesty to get what he wanted.” His mea culpa, while appreciated, does little to excuse the memoir its more indulgent and didactic moments.

A confidently told but not wholly inspiring memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-592-40778-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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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...


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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