A graceful and touching gift of love and posthumous devotion from mother to daughter.


A mother’s loving tribute to a daughter struggling with terminal brain cancer who desired to die with dignity.

“No mother should bury her child,” writes Ziegler, a former teacher–turned–entrepreneur and public speaker, in this melancholic, poignant memoir. Though her 29-year-old daughter, Brittany, eventually succumbed to cancer, her death spotlighted the contentious issue of a terminally ill person’s right to end his or her own life. In 2014, after suffering debilitating headaches, the author’s daughter was diagnosed with a primary brain tumor and eventually given a murky prognosis. Ziegler’s smooth yet urgent prose is painstakingly detailed, offering minute particulars of Brittany’s childhood, her own story, and the cancer ordeal itself, treating readers to every nuance and heart-rending emotion flowing between mother and daughter during this emotionally harrowing twist of fate. “Hope rose in my chest and fluttered like a wounded bird,” Ziegler writes of her daughter surviving risky neurosurgery, but as the tumor continued to grow and the pain and seizures edged toward unbearable levels, Brittany kept to her initial resolve to explore assisted end-of-life options in Portland, Oregon, where a death with dignity law was on the books. This alternatingly heartbreaking and life-affirming book incrementally charts the life of Ziegler’s “magic carpet girl,” a formerly vibrant, athletic, daring, strikingly lovely woman whom she took on an Alaskan fjord boat trip as a closing bucket list item. Though her daughter’s final breaths were gloriously free-willed, Ziegler’s memoir is sad and often difficult to read at times; her daughter’s anger, uncertainty, denial, guilt, and grief become increasingly palpable as the narrative unfolds. Brittany self-administered a lethal medicinal combination in the fall of 2014 but not before pleading with legislators countrywide to fully support and adopt laws in their jurisdictions affording terminal patients the right to die on their own terms. In October of that year her moving YouTube video became a viral sensation.

A graceful and touching gift of love and posthumous devotion from mother to daughter.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2851-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.



In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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