Through the worst possible means—his daughter’s abduction—a father uncovers a great deal about life and himself in this...

Letters for Lucia


A distraught young parent learns a set of valuable lessons by writing letters that his missing child may never read.

Brown’s nonfiction debut unfolds steadily in a partially epistolary form. In each chapter, he atmospherically describes a different point in his arc—growing up, his family, his work experience, etc.—and then shifts narrative voice and indulges in ruminations on the kinds of life lessons those events could be used to teach. The lessons take the form of eight principles, the Heart Principle, the Acceptance Principle, and so on, and they aren’t presented solely as messages for a general readership. They have a particular audience in mind: Lucia, the daughter Brown had with a woman named Jolie, an Uzbekistan native who relocated to America. Each chapter begins with a letter to Lucia, followed by a slice of Brown’s autobiography and an elaboration of whichever principle he sees as foremost in the events he’s just related (each section ends with a series of questions). Readers quickly learn why a father needs to write letters to his daughter, and why Brown often alludes to a vast distance separating him from the most important person in his life: at a tense juncture in their marriage, Jolie decided to leave the country—and take Lucia with her. The child suffered from a neck ailment, and Jolie’s conviction that she could obtain better treatment overseas added the final stress to a strained marriage; suddenly Brown discovered that they were gone. He was floored, and even once he rallied, the prospect of legally regaining his daughter seemed costly and remote. The author’s life principles are somewhat bland commonplaces (they include the Compassion Principle, the Forgiveness Principle, and the Gratitude Principle). And the “reflection questions” that end each chapter seem designed for group use. In the “Acceptance” chapter, Brown asks: “Is there an event that has happened in your life that would offer relief to you if you put it into a place of acceptance right now?” But his application of the principles to his own life while going through an intense ordeal that’s the stuff of parental nightmares makes for gripping reading. Eventually, Brown muses: “It is my deepest desire that the heartbreak that the three of us have felt will evolve into heart openings, expanding our empathy, compassion, and sensitivity.”

Through the worst possible means—his daughter’s abduction—a father uncovers a great deal about life and himself in this engrossing work.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63393-195-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Koehler Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2016

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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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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