Not simply a story about the pain of losing pets, the book keenly relates the pleasures of owning them.

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THE LEGACY OF BEEZER AND BOOMER

LESSONS ON LIVING AND DYING FROM MY CANINE BROTHERS

Both a touching chronicle of canine deaths foretold and a paean to the joy of owning pets.

Currently, dogs enjoy not just broad popularity in our culture, but they also occupy a blurred line between human and animal. If you don’t have pets—or if you have pets but don’t love them like family—the relationship between Koktavy and his canine companions will be hard to fathom because Legacy is a memoir about grieving the loss of two brothers who just happen to be dogs. In 1995, the author’s wife coerced him into adopting two black Labrador retrievers, Beezer and Boomer. A few years later, the wife was gone, but the dogs remained. Hesitant at first, Koktavy eventually fell hard for his puppies: he invented silly nicknames for them, he threw them birthday parties with funny hats and he called them his “brothers.” Then he had to watch them both die. As Beezer neared his ninth birthday, he developed a fatal kidney disease. Shortly after Beezer’s passing, Boomer contracted a bone cancer that would take his life. In the early stages of Beezer’s struggle, Koktavy began writing; many authors had written about lost pets, he thought, but few had chronicled the actual process of losing animals who were also true companions. His attempt to do so is genuinely moving. Koktavy writes of his love for his dogs—and of the grief that followed their deaths—with unpretentious candor. He never hides the remarkable intimacy he shared with Boomer and Beezer, and if his closeness with the dogs is slightly off-putting at the beginning of his tale, it is downright enviable by the end. Gorgeous etchings by Chris Smith showing the two pups at play and at rest add visual depth to the narrative.

Not simply a story about the pain of losing pets, the book keenly relates the pleasures of owning them. 

Pub Date: June 21, 2010

ISBN: 978-0982126004

Page Count: 328

Publisher: B Brothers

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

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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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