A captivating memoir about a daughter’s reunion with her birth mother and the intricate consequences it had on both their...

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POSTCARDS FROM COOKIE

A MEMOIR OF MOTHERHOOD, MIRACLES, AND A WHOLE LOT OF MAIL

Journalist Clarke’s story of her discovery that her biological mother was Carol “Cookie” Cole, the daughter of Nat King Cole, a revelation that caused her to build a life-altering relationship with her through the exchange of letters, phone calls and postcards.

The author is an award-winning journalist and the happy mother of two. She is also the adopted daughter of two parents who gave her a wonderful life. When she visited the agency that handled her adoption, she only sought information on her genetic heritage, which she required for medical reasons. The details she received from the agency, however, as well as a series of remarkable coincidences, helped her realize that her birth mother was Cookie Cole, the daughter of the legendary musician. The author’s discovery forced her to acknowledge a deep-rooted curiosity she had about her birth mother since childhood. “All adoptees are curious about their beginnings,” she writes. “Anyone who claims otherwise (as I have many times) is lying.” So she reached out to Cookie in search of answers to the questions she had convinced herself, up until that point, that she could ignore. Clarke’s prose is elegant, crisp and deeply personal, and her narration is gripping, even after she reconnects with her biological mother and uncovers the truth about her own origins. Happy endings in life are seldom conclusions, and that Clarke gets one only complicated her story more. “Whose life is this anyway?” writes Cookie in one of her letters to her daughter, a fraught question coming from a woman who created life, only to have life force her to give her child away. Clarke effectively explores her crisis of identity by peeling back layer after layer of a complex, riveting personal history.

A captivating memoir about a daughter’s reunion with her birth mother and the intricate consequences it had on both their lives.

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-210317-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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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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