A worthy and comforting book about one woman’s grief.

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LETTERS TO MY SON

A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF

Southern California–based nurse and debut author Anderson shares the story of the loss of her 19-year-old son, and her journey through the next two years.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 16, 2016, the author received the kind of phone call that all parents dread. The eldest of her four children, Jeramie, nicknamed “Jem,” had been in a serious car accident. Hours later, she finally confirmed that he did not survive. “The loss of a child breaks you,” she writes in the preface to this slim, touching volume. Overwhelmed by grief, she faced a choice: “Do I…live my life trying in vain to be whole again….Or do I accept that this is me now? Do I allow and accept myself to be broken?” She says that writing letters to Jem after his death—which are included in this book—was her way of keeping him near. She originally wrote these missives on paper and an online journal, and they allowed her to give voice to her profound grief. She later started a Twitter account to read Jem’s old Twitter posts and his friends’ new ones. She also had his first tattoo replicated on her own ankle: “the lotus flower for inner strength and peace; Om for what was, what is, and what will be; and flames for the rage inside.” Overall, her memoir offers a tender account of her own acceptance of pain as part of her new reality. Some of the most poignant musings in the book deal with how she found it difficult to answer simple questions in social situations, such as “How many children do you have?” She felt that saying “three” somehow negated Jem’s existence, she says, so she finally decided to say, “I had four children. But one is no longer with us.” She effectively concludes, “Just put it out there. The truth. Even if it makes the person who asked the question uncomfortable.” Over the course of this reassuring remembrance, she comes to the realization that although there will always be tears in her future, there will also be times for laughter and joy.

A worthy and comforting book about one woman’s grief.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4808-7278-3

Page Count: 110

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 14, 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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