A poignantly provocative memoir.



In his first book, a 20-something recounts his battles with caring for a mother fighting cancer and a father with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

As a young professional newly graduated from college, Utah native Marshall was on top of the world. Not only did he and his siblings come from wealth and live with “the proverbial silver spoon jammed firmly up our asses”; he also had a job and girlfriend he loved in Los Angeles, a city he enjoyed for its “traffic and pollution and assholes speeding around in BMWs.” The one shadow on his good fortune was having a mother sick with cancer. But even that difficulty was one Marshall and his family had overcome thanks to his father, a man who had held chaos at bay with his unflagging devotion to them all. Then one day, Marshall learned that his father had been diagnosed with ALS, a disease that was “a real ugly motherfucker and…pretty much a death sentence.” At first, the family tried to carry on their lives as though nothing had changed. However, less than a year after the diagnosis, Marshall’s siblings told him that he needed to come home to help care for both parents. It was then he realized that “life [wasn’t] all about gin and tonics and sunsets.” For the next year, Marshall watched as his once healthy and active father declined into near total helplessness and his traumatized mother reeled from chemotherapy and drugs that addled her brain. Relationships between him, his siblings, and his friends strained to the breaking point. Marshall then had to face his own personal losses, which included the end of a long-term relationship he believed would culminate in marriage. Though the author’s potty-mouthed profanity can be trying, the book is funny, heartbreaking, and unapologetically crude. Strangely enough, as Marshall is forced into awareness of life’s harsher realities and grows up, his linguistic coarseness gives way to a narrative that manages to be quite touching.

A poignantly provocative memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-06882-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?