Til Now

An engaging, reflective memoir.

Brennan’s debut memoir depicts one man’s journey through war, love and loss.

How do we become who we are? Brennan’s debut memoir looks at the decisions that he feels made him the person he is today, and also shows the values of his family and his old neighborhood. Raised Roman Catholic in Jersey City, N.J., in the 1940s and ’50s, Brennan’s earliest memories are of men in uniform. His father and uncles all served in World War II, and during that time, he and his mother lived with his grandmother, prompting a close and lasting extended-family relationship. His father returned home when he was 4, and over the years, they could never quite move past a strained relationship. Brennan compensated with a love for baseball, a sport played in his neighborhood streets as well as in Roosevelt Stadium, a mere 15-minute walk from his home. The author’s passion for the sport carried him through his entire life and helped form his identity. He was also influenced by his time in the Army; he served in Germany just four years after the Berlin Wall was built. His responsibilities mainly consisted of keeping the soldiers in his platoon in line, and his sense of leadership, duty and purpose inspired him to pursue a job in teaching after he returned to America. He also dabbled in acting and singing along the way. The author effectively describes his childhood and adulthood, highlighting moments that he feels helped form him as a person. His recognition of his life’s influences lends texture and meaning to the story, which may compel readers to similarly reflect upon their own lives. Overall, he delivers a gentle tale of how his past helped create his future.

An engaging, reflective memoir.

Pub Date: May 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482366297

Page Count: 188

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2013


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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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