A short but telling reminder to live life well and leave heartfelt memories.

JUST DANCE

In this debut memoir, a doctor and devoted aunt commemorates her nephew and recounts his battle against leukemia.

Patel’s nephew Rakesh was an American Hindu of Indian descent. He was studying business communication and technology at the University of Houston when, in December 2011, he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. He fought the cancer throughout 2012 and into 2013; then, while in remission, he completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 2014, inspired by the physician assistants who helped him through his treatment, Rakesh began studying to become one himself. But the cancer returned, and in December 2014, he died. He was 23 years old. Throughout his short life—and particularly during the ordeal of his illness—Rakesh impressed those around him with his positive outlook and regard for others. Like many cancer sufferers, he chose to remain upbeat. Even while in the hospital, he continued to mentor his university dance team. While he was very ill in October 2014, his determination and love for his family saw him attend his brother’s wedding, both driving the groom to the ceremony and delivering the best man’s speech. Rakesh even took heart from his cancer’s acronym and turned it into reassurance for others, tweeting: “ALL is well, lol.” Unsurprisingly, Patel writes from a very personal place, sharing memories of Rakesh and her own emotional responses to his triumphs, setbacks, and everyday endurance. As a doctor at a neonatal intensive care unit, she is well-placed to understand the medical procedures, yet the sanguine memoir doesn’t stray too far into this territory. For the most part, it chronicles the impact that Rakesh had on those around him. (The letters to Rakesh from his young nieces after his death are especially moving.) The author does not always make allowances for readers unfamiliar with Rakesh or with Indian and Hindu culture. Some of the references are therefore disorienting, yet not in a negative way. The wider effect is that Rakesh, with his loving friends and family, brings his culture and beliefs closer to those who may not share them. This seems a fitting legacy for a young man whose counsel to others was: “Don’t worry about anything. Just dance.”

A short but telling reminder to live life well and leave heartfelt memories.

Pub Date: June 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4907-8949-1

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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...

NIGHT

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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