An overdramatic, occasionally clichéd recounting of a childhood in rural America.

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TALES FROM A FREE-RANGE CHILDHOOD

One rural boy's misadventures with his younger brother in the foothills of Appalachia.

Storyteller Davis conjures humorous tales from his boyhood, packaging them in memoir form. The author’s humor often takes on a grandfatherly tone—innocent and innocuous—allowing an older generation of readers to ease into a comfortable nostalgia, and his stories unapologetically sentimental. In “Too Much Hair,” older brother Donald tricks his brother Joe into receiving an amateur haircut, though the boys' father soon intercedes on his youngest son's behalf, offering Donald his own amateur haircut as retribution for his crimes. Similarly, in “Responsible,” Donald and Joe become addicted to a wrestling show, though their attempts to emulate the burly men leave them far more damaged than the performers on the screen. “Golf Tees” serves as a third example of tough lessons learned. After a 6-year-old Donald thoughtlessly swipes golf tees from a local store, his mother forces him to face the manager and own up to his mistakes. But when his mother realizes that her son's behavior will reflect poorly on her, she alters her allegiance, becoming his partner in crime by distracting the store's employees while her son returns the tees to their rightful place. Davis relies heavily on punch lines delivered from the mouths of babes, offering a collection of homespun stories that will undoubtedly appeal most to those who can relate to growing up in the 1940s and ’50s. While Donald and Joe share center stage, perhaps the collection's star is their father, a judicious man often forced into the roles of judge, jury and executioner as he wades through his sons' harmless disputes.

An overdramatic, occasionally clichéd recounting of a childhood in rural America.

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-89587-507-5

Page Count: 242

Publisher: John F. Blair

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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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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