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Heading into adulthood from the younger end of Eat, Pray, Love territory, two young college grads with itchy feet take most of a double wanderjahr to test their coupledom overseas. In quick, good-humored black-and-white sketches that occupy at least half of nearly every page, Weinberg not only evokes a sense of place in depicting apartments and street scenes but displays an unusual ability to capture fleeting expressions, poses and the emotional tenor of momentary encounters. The two build funds of self-confidence teaching English to children in Beijing, dawdle their way through Southeast Asia, then settle in Mali for most of a year for a Fulbright-funded research project. Occasional brushes with police, illness and hostile locals or disenchanted fellow travelers aside, Scieszka maintains an upbeat tone in her episodic, present-tense travelogue—noting the destructive effects of politics, poverty and tourism but focusing on the pleasures of new friends, new foods, adapting to local conditions, being grownups (“It’s liberating! It’s…full of pressure”) and finding reasons to get “out of bed on the other side of the world even when it’s raining, you haven’t made any friends yet and you’ve got the travel shits like whoa.” Newly fledged adults (and even those with plenty of mileage under their wings) will find both entertainment and perhaps a dollop of inspiration. (Travel memoir. 16 & up, adult)

Pub Date: March 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-527-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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Skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being.

Full-immersion journalist Kidder (Home Town, 1999, etc.) tries valiantly to keep up with a front-line, muddy-and-bloody general in the war against infectious disease in Haiti and elsewhere.

The author occasionally confesses to weariness in this gripping account—and why not? Paul Farmer, who has an M.D. and a Ph.D. from Harvard, appears to be almost preternaturally intelligent, productive, energetic, and devoted to his causes. So trotting alongside him up Haitian hills, through international airports and Siberian prisons and Cuban clinics, may be beyond the capacity of a mere mortal. Kidder begins with a swift account of his first meeting with Farmer in Haiti while working on a story about American soldiers, then describes his initial visit to the doctor’s clinic, where the journalist felt he’d “encountered a miracle.” Employing guile, grit, grins, and gifts from generous donors (especially Boston contractor Tom White), Farmer has created an oasis in Haiti where TB and AIDS meet their Waterloos. The doctor has an astonishing rapport with his patients and often travels by foot for hours over difficult terrain to treat them in their dwellings (“houses” would be far too grand a word). Kidder pauses to fill in Farmer’s amazing biography: his childhood in an eccentric family sounds like something from The Mosquito Coast; a love affair with Roald Dahl’s daughter ended amicably; his marriage to a Haitian anthropologist produced a daughter whom he sees infrequently thanks to his frenetic schedule. While studying at Duke and Harvard, Kidder writes, Farmer became obsessed with public health issues; even before he’d finished his degrees he was spending much of his time in Haiti establishing the clinic that would give him both immense personal satisfaction and unsurpassed credibility in the medical worlds he hopes to influence.

Skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-50616-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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The textured perspective that emerges in candid and quirky interviews with gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth is marred by a reductive approach to sexuality. Journalist Chandler follows six teenagers over a few years, through crucial points in their coming-out processes. (The book grew out of a series of articles he wrote for the Minneapolis Star- Tribune.) Attempting to give a broad overview of the sexual- minority youth experience, Chandler devotes some chapters to the young people's (and, in some cases, their parents') personal stories and some to broad generalities about homosexuality and young people. The teens' narratives are often powerful; though there is a good share of coming-out clichÇs (``I always felt different,'' ``She was always such a tomboy,'' etc.), the author also includes the kinds of particularities that bring such stories to life. One girl, for instance, takes her mother to a gay nightclub so she can see what it's like; in another celebratory family moment, a father delights his daughter and her friends by joining them in a raucous lesbian-sex joke-telling session. Chandler, who is heterosexual, negotiates the diversity of queer youth culture more open-mindedly than most mainstream journalists, neither avoiding nor reviling drag queens, tattooed girls, and shirtless young women at pride marches. Unfortunately, the Homosexuality 101 sections are simplistic; in a chapter called ``The Roots of Homosexuality,'' Chandler reassures his readers ad nauseam that gay people do not ``choose'' to be gay and that an individual's essential sexual identity is fixed and unchangeable. Chandler's approach to homosexuality has the effect of unnecessarily distancing these kids from readers, who he seems to assume are straight and have never questioned their heterosexuality. The personal narratives here are compelling, but unfortunately, Chandler seems determined not to let his readers identify with his subjects. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8129-2380-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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