A heartbreaking yet hopeful book about the tragedies that bring people together, recommended for readers dealing with the...

What Now!

A PIVOTAL STORY OF LOVE, FAMILY, AND THE MIRACLE OF PEOPLE

A debut memoir that depicts the journey of a woman fighting for her husband’s life after he was hospitalized for an aggressive brain tumor.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2008, Vinje was thrown into a state of shock after she got a phone call while waiting in line at the grocery store. Her mother-in-law told her that her husband, Tom, had been in a car accident and had wandered away from the scene. The author returned home to find Tom chatting casually with their neighbors as if nothing much had happened. But the next morning, he was difficult to wake; later, he wouldn’t leave the couch and was throwing up bile. Vinje and her mother-in-law decided to take him to the hospital, where he was quickly put into intensive care and given a CT scan. But what they and the doctors thought were symptoms of a concussion were actually symptoms of an aggressive brain tumor. Over the next seven months, Vinje, the couple’s family members, and an enormous number of their friends and neighbors convened with love and prayer on a blog called The CaringBridge to try to bring hope to the devastating situation. Although Vinje did everything in her power to bring her husband back to health, she was forced to slowly accept the reality of the situation and face her worst nightmares. This gripping book tackles the heavy subject matter of watching a spouse deteriorate due to terminal cancer. Although it’s a common theme for memoirs, Vinje’s stands out because of its unusual narrative structure: it’s almost entirely composed of journal entries from her perspective and from those of many other people who loved Tom. These entries, written on The CaringBridge as Tom was struggling in the hospital and then after his death, speak with immediacy—particularly in earlier entries, as they express heart-wrenching hope that he will survive. It’s hard to read in parts, knowing that Tom will succumb to his illness, and the infallible optimism begins to read as an unwillingness to accept the grave situation. However, the memoir offers hope in showing how Vinje created a community of grieving, healing, and remembrance, sticking to her mantra that “Bad things happen fast; good things take time.”

A heartbreaking yet hopeful book about the tragedies that bring people together, recommended for readers dealing with the loss of a spouse or other loved one.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-5038-9

Page Count: 446

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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