An odd but often satisfying story, told in an unusual voice.

Who Broke The Girl?

A lifetime of wandering gradually leads a woman to greater happiness, as revealed in this debut memoir.

Costantino, the daughter of immigrants, didn’t have a happy childhood. Tensions ran high at home, and “the girl” (as the author refers to herself throughout) grew from a shy, anxious child into a highly sensitive adult. Despite the author’s professional accomplishments, her inability to “escape the fear of being just one” led her to move to a big city. A romance with a “broken boy” turned sour and ultimately abusive. Recognizing the need for a major change, she fled to her parents’ home country, then to another new city, where she threw herself into her work. After burning out in her job, she quit to go globe-trotting, and then returned to “the city with all the right kind of energy for her.” But despite Costantino’s searching, nothing filled the hole in her soul, and bad relationships with both lovers and friends were a continual source of stress and sadness. She attempted to distract herself from her personal struggles by giving her all to her career, working herself to the bone for ungrateful employers. The author relates all these events in the most general terms. Characters are typically referred to as “girl,” “boy,” or “friend” and the cities and countries she visits and resides in are vaguely described but never named, both of which give the book a distant, fairy-tale quality. Even her career, which dominates her life, is never explicitly identified, although she appears to work in a high-pressure field, such as media or advertising. This literary technique effectively keeps the focus on her emotional state. However, it’s also confusing at times, as it’s often nearly impossible to tell people apart; the style would have been better suited to an essay than a book-length memoir. Yet Costantino’s emotional honesty is refreshing, and her slow, awkward journey toward greater happiness reflects that life’s problems are rarely solved in an instant.

An odd but often satisfying story, told in an unusual voice. 

Pub Date: July 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-48163-9

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Waking Works Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2015

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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