“It’s my task to transmit the legacy to a new generation of people the same age as those killed,” says Rose. He does just...

A transforming journey into a family’s past as a father takes his sons to Europe to follow in their relatives’ footsteps.

After his divorce, Rose (Flipping for It, not reviewed, etc.) decides to take 7-year-old Marshall and 12-year-old Alex, on a voyage of discovery into their father’s family’s circumstances during WWII. When they meet J.P., one of their relatives, he gives them a journal, runic but with enough information to follow. The three track J.P.’s movements as he fled with his family from the Nazis, town to town, hidey-hole to hidey-hole. On one level, this is an extended rumination on hiding places: “Even if they didn’t save our lives, they allowed us to reveal ourselves more fully than anywhere else. That was the wonderful paradox of hiding places. Not merely dark holes of concealment, they were also places of revelation.” But this is also a voyage of illumination, a reexperiencing in their own way of what J.P. and his family endured. It offers Rose as a father not only a chance to introduce his boys to a side of their family, but to address, often during bedtime chats, questions of love and hate and childhood, evil, forgiveness, and redemption, all sparked by visiting J.P.’s haunts along the trail. The boys come to know their relatives in wartime—“hiders in attics, hunted outcasts, pariahs and scaredy-cats and glorious eccentrics, caustic by nature and questioning by habit, and always on your toes.” Rose is blessed with a knack for character-sketching, for delineating the atmosphere of places, and for conveying drama: Their coming to an extermination camp in France, where J.P.’s two daughters were killed, is so powerful it’s crushing, a crash course in evil.

“It’s my task to transmit the legacy to a new generation of people the same age as those killed,” says Rose. He does just this, with tenderness and insight, retold here with extraordinary narrative skill.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-609-80915-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002


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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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