Candid and heartfelt, though at times penitential in tone.



An evangelical activist's account of the troubled relationship between his family and his rebellious, drug-addicted son.

Mansfield was determined not to make the same mistakes parenting his children that his own well-meaning but distant father made with him. When his first child, Nate, was born, he vowed to engage in the kind of "intentional parenting" that would help him acknowledge Nate's "personal worth and value” on a daily basis. He and his wife worked hard at creating what they believed was a happy life for Nate, which included bedtime stories, road trips and plenty of family celebrations. But what Mansfield didn't realize was that by being so child-focused and not letting Nate (and later, his two younger siblings) "own their feelings" during moments of conflict, he was unwittingly modeling selfish and self-centered behaviors to his children. This in turn manifested in such unwanted behaviors as vicious fights between Nate and his sister, who at times looked and sounded as though "they were auditioning for roles in Lord of the Flies.” All three of Mansfield's children eventually learned to love God, but it was his eldest son who began to use drugs and challenge authority. Nate's descent into addiction led to run-ins with the law and, later, a felony conviction for drug possession. The greatest tragedy, though, came after his release. Just when Nate had made a commitment to changing his life, he died, a victim of prescription drug abuse. Mansfield takes much of the blame for what happened to his son, but as he does so, he also suggests that the child-centered approach to parenting endorsed by the Christian community may have been flawed.

Candid and heartfelt, though at times penitential in tone.

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-7851-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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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...


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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