A thought-provoking and humane memoir of survival and self-discovery.


A Brazilian-born Swedish woman’s account of childhood poverty and reconciling her early trauma with her experiences in adulthood.

In 2012, Rickardsson discovered that she had suddenly “hit the wall.” Gradually, it became clear that her troubled past had finally caught up with her. Growing up, she and her younger brother, Patrick, had lived a feral existence alongside their schizophrenic single mother, Petronilia, in a series of caves just outside São Paulo. As difficult as their circumstances were, their mother still managed to make their lives bearable through her unstinting love. Eventually, the family made their way to São Paulo’s favelas, where Petronilia worked menial jobs and Rickardsson quickly learned that survival meant doing whatever it took to secure a meal. In one disturbing episode, she recounts how she inadvertently killed a young boy who tried to steal her food scraps. But the author never forgot the stolen moments of joy she experienced with other street children. Petronilia eventually left her children in an orphanage that brokered their adoption into a Swedish family. Life in Europe was far easier materially, but emotionally, Rickardsson realized she had been “split in two.” On the outside, she was Christina, the brown-skinned girl who strove to fit into a white, upper-middle-class Swedish world. On the inside, she was Christiana, the scrappy street fighter who bore the weight of a painful past. Rickardsson’s breakthrough came when she found the name of the orphanage from which she had been adopted. Seeking to bridge the gap between who she was and who she became, the author flew to Brazil to find her mother and come to terms with her past. Both candid and compelling, Rickardsson’s story is not only about a woman seeking to heal the fractures inherent in a transnational identity; it is also a moving meditation on poverty, injustice, and the meaning of family.

A thought-provoking and humane memoir of survival and self-discovery.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0096-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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 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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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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