An honest, painful yet humorous account of seeking unconditional love.

The Good Daughter


In this intimate memoir, the only child of aging parents describes her struggles to balance caregiving, marriage, and career, and to reconcile daughterly devotion with childhood wounds.

Mother, wife, and the founder of an international school, overachiever Shoemaker found that her need to please everyone was outmatched by the demands of her domineering mother, Mildred, and the physical ailments of an easygoing father, Jim, who developed Alzheimer’s. When both parents moved to a nursing home due to declining health, Jim was housed apart from Mildred, who bitterly withdrew from her husband and criticized Shoemaker. “I visualize my mother wrapping a long rope around her waist,” the author writes, “handing one end of it to me, and jumping off a bridge.” Flashbacks to life in Cairo and childhood pressures to compete helped Shoemaker decide to change this lifelong sense of inferiority. Simultaneously trying to draw closer to and assert more independence from a mother who still intimidated, Shoemaker felt inadequate and withdrew from her husband, whose own feelings of neglect were buried behind a similar childhood upbringing concerned with how a man should behave. By urging her mother to collaborate on this memoir, Shoemaker discovered the tender side of Mildred and uncovered secrets that more fully explain her mother’s seemingly heartless choices. Aside from black-and-white photos from her mother’s scrapbooks, five pages of questions for “Life Review” follow the narrative, though they’re rather generic and unnecessary. This memorable book’s real achievement is that much of it would be mundane were it not for Shoemaker’s gift for description. Also a poet, she crafts dialogue and situations to create scenes that can be funny, heartbreaking, or frightening. However, the more Shoemaker stands up to her mother, the more Mildred dominates the story, and the tales of Shoemaker’s pupils, fascinating in themselves, drop out of the text.

An honest, painful yet humorous account of seeking unconditional love.

Pub Date: April 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9864253-0-1

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Amity Bridge Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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