A heartwarming fictional tribute to a son’s cancer-free life by a grateful parent.

DEAR DAD

Keil’s (The Girl in the Freezer, 2016, etc.) novel, inspired by true events, tells the story of a teenager’s battle with cancer, as told through impassioned letters to his father.

The author offers a moving, inspired fictionalized re-creation of his 14-year-old son Dustin’s treatment for leukemia more than three decades ago. (The book was written shortly after Dustin was discharged from the hospital, and he’s now in remission.) As an “absent father living in another part of the country” when his son received the diagnosis, Keil says that he found the imaginative writing process to be a powerful kind of therapy. The book begins with Dustin writing a letter to his father, shortly after he’s admitted to the hospital. The missives become more engaged, impassioned, and searingly poignant as the story progresses and the direness of Dustin’s situation begins to sink in. The author consistently demonstrates a talent for portraying the voice and wide-eyed perspective of a teen facing the most trying time of his young life. Dustin’s mother, who initially finds it difficult to even face her son in his hospital bed, is portrayed with grace and striking compassion. Overall, Keil’s imagined depiction of his son’s ordeal comes across as profoundly genuine, and it will be eye-opening for readers who are unfamiliar with grueling chemotherapy treatments; it portrays Dustin’s aversion to needle sticks, his blunt confusion and mounting, displaced anger at his diagnosis, and his blind fear of a hospital stay. Some of the descriptions of medical procedures, even from Dustin’s uninitiated vantage point, will be challenging reading for the faint of heart. The epistolary quality of the narrative impressively and vibrantly encapsulates its protagonist’s emotions and trepidations as he is surrounded by doctors and nurses, deals with cold rooms and intimidating, mysterious smells and sounds, and grapples with an illness that, for a teen, is nearly impossible to comprehend. The story is suitable for both adult and YA readers, and it will be particularly instructive for newly diagnosed leukemia patients.  

A heartwarming fictional tribute to a son’s cancer-free life by a grateful parent.

Pub Date: March 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5229-7676-9

Page Count: 216

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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