A powerful, highly personal chronicle of a doctor’s feverish rush to find a cure for the disease that afflicts him.

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CHASING MY CURE

A DOCTOR'S RACE TO TURN HOPE INTO ACTION

A Pennsylvania physician races to find a cure for his rare illness.

In this moving memoir, Fajgenbaum (Medicine/Univ. of Pennsylvania) details his harrowing bout with a rare disorder called Castleman disease, which invades lymph node tissue and systematically wreaks havoc on major organ function. He amiably describes his early days on medical school rotations nervously fumbling through infant deliveries and delivering proactive patient care. As the son of an extroverted orthopedic surgeon, expectations were high, and there was a lot of ground to cover in a field he pursued with “reckless intensity” after his beloved mother succumbed to cancer when he was a teenager. Throughout the book, Fajgenbaum writes with consistent urgency and great emotion about how his mother’s illness inspired his future livelihood: “I was impaled by my mother’s death,” he writes. While in medical school, he noticed his energy flagging and a group of troubling symptoms, including skin lumps and severe abdominal pain. After more than a month of inconclusive tests and near-fatal conditions, Fajgenbaum remained without a diagnosis but suddenly began temporarily stabilizing. Doctors finally reached a determination of Castleman disease, which carried an uncertain and possibly fatal prognosis. The author, a former weight lifter and Georgetown quarterback, recognized this personal health conundrum as a challenge he was more than prepared to tackle. As he began dedicating his medical career to unlocking the mysteries of the disease, his research and his work with other sufferers would also teach him about hope, about his capacities and limitations as a doctor, and about the “often unfair disconnect between the best that science can offer and our fragile longevity.” Offering a distinctively uncommon perspective on disease and doctoring, Fajgenbaum also writes earnestly and frankly about the unique brand of humility one must accept as a medicinal healer with a mysterious, possibly deadly malady.

A powerful, highly personal chronicle of a doctor’s feverish rush to find a cure for the disease that afflicts him.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9961-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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

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BECOMING

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

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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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