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A remarkable exploration of pregnancy.

The diary of Maso’s (Defiance, 1998, etc.) pregnancy.

In her 40s, Maso decides to have a baby. Her record of pregnancy begins with the observation that everything “is enlarged” by it—her hunger, her breasts, and her emotions. She is terrified that she will lose the baby. At a farm, she lifts heavy pumpkins and is ambivalent about her every gesture: will schlepping squash trigger a miscarriage? But should she become an invalid for nine months? Maso mentally compares the possibly-knocked-up 15-year-old who checks her panties for menstrual blood every 20 minutes, hoping for a sign of her period, with the definitely-pregnant-but-might-miscarry 40-year-old who makes the same inspection with far different hopes. After the first trimester is over, Maso relaxes a bit. She envisions sending nutrients to her daughter through her placenta (“Placenta is the Latin word for cake, which is pretty great”). She loves her swelled shape—more “like a beached whale than a person.” She plays happily with her nieces and nephews, who are amazed that she can have a baby without being married, and she has a spiritual awakening: “The Lord is with thee. . . . Never have I understood these words as I understand them now.” But in the eighth month, things begin to go wrong: the baby stops moving, and Maso’s doctor induces labor, not sure little Rose will make it. But Rose is born. Maso gives us only a glimpse of life with Rose: she resents La Leche’s insistence that she breastfeed her child, and her relationship with her partner is predictably strained by the introduction of a newborn. But these are minor complications in the face of what she has gained: a new life.

A remarkable exploration of pregnancy.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-58243-088-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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