The sometimes moving, sometimes annoying lamentations of a young novelist (Hazard and the Five Delights, 1988) who has lost his lover. In January 1992 Brigid Clark, a young writer, was killed in an automobile accident on an icy Vermont road. Her live-in fiancÇ reveals his grief and his steps toward healing. Noâl's account begins about 15 months after the accident and ends two and a half years after Brigid's death. During that time he moves to Massachusetts, dates women he meets through a quirky personal ad in a local paper, tries hypnotherapy as a way of reaching Brigid, challenges himself with a diving vacation in Belize, ends what had seemed to be a promising new relationship, and moves back to Vermont. He remains obsessed, or at least possessed, by the idea of Brigid, still coming to terms with her absence from his life. Although most of the memoir is in Noâl's words, he has included many selections from Brigid's journal and other of her writings. The most memorable passages, however, are from neither of these young writers but from an audiotape Noâl made of the emergency room nurse who was with Brigid in her last hours and who tells him about it plainly, simply, and kindly. The facts of the accident are vague at first, as is the character of the young woman who has been killed, but by the narrative's end, Noâl has clarified both, although possibly not to his own satisfaction. At one point Noâl writes of feeling soured by the ``vinegar of self-consciousness, of grief orchestration,'' and later of his suspicion that he may be ``milking this whole experience, belaboring it for the sake of Being In It Longer.'' It is easy to agree with the author's own assessment.

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8129-2679-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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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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