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READING LIPS

A MEMOIR OF KISSES

A memorable, laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud essay collection for both genders and all ages.

Connected autobiographical essays woven around the theme of kissing.

Sternbach (Now Breathe: A Very Personal Journey Through Breast Cancer, 1999), the editor in chief of the literary journal Memoir (and), is an impressive stylist and a candid guide through her life. Although the reality of kissing serves as the connecting thread, each essay is grounded in one of a wide variety of complementary topics, such as the first love as an adolescent, best friends, parents, sisters, birthdays, tennis, summer camp, air travel, marriage, divorce, cancer, rape and death—among others. Sternbach has carefully considered how to make a life story interesting through unusual yet approachable formatting, and she throws humor, sarcasm and self-deprecation into the mix. Characters from the author's life appear, disappear and then reappear unexpectedly in different essays. One of those characters is a sixth-grade boy worshipped by the author as a fifth grader. She hears a rumor from reliable sources that the boy plans to kiss her on a certain day, but, due to unexpected circumstances, the kiss never takes place. Sternbach remembers the boy sporadically through the decades. When he re-enters her life, never having kissed her, it is because of his premature death. The author’s younger twin sisters also figure prominently in the book—they “have always been a source of great material even when they didn't know it.” Sternbach mostly avoids discussion of her two failed marriages, but her third (and current) husband plays a major role, especially in an essay about how they met and fell in love. The birth of their daughter provides an occasion for multiple kisses, not to mention an unforgettable hospital-birthing essay.

A memorable, laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud essay collection for both genders and all ages.

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60953-037-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Unbridled Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


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  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist


  • National Book Award Winner

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

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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