A standout in the Detroit rehab genre.

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A $500 HOUSE IN DETROIT

REBUILDING AN ABANDONED HOME AND AN AMERICAN CITY

A young man finds joy in a “place they said no one could love.”

In 2009, at age 23, Philp bought a house for $500 in Detroit: an abandoned 1903 Queen Anne with a wraparound porch. One of many such bargains available in the bankrupt city, the house and the story of its yearslong rehabilitation are the focus of this fresh, honest, often stirring debut, which began as a BuzzFeed feature. A shy, idealistic working-class white kid from rural Michigan, the author arrived in the 80 percent black city with no friends, job, or money. Fixing the house “would be a protest of sorts,” he reasoned, an expression of his contempt for the wealthy suburban lifestyle of Ann Arbor, where he had just attended the University of Michigan. Working odd jobs, he found himself in a frightening city of wild dogs, frequent shootings, suspicious fires, and near-daily offers of drugs or sex. One new neighbor, Zeno, a crack dealer, asked him, “are you wearing a wire, motherfucker?” Another told Philp about a county auction of thousands of abandoned houses, an event that kicks off this deeply felt, sharply observed personal quest to create meaning and community out of the fallen city’s “cinders of racism and consumerism and escape.” Often hungry and scared, the author had help from his parents and new friends (most wild spirits sharing in the adventure of a revitalizing city) in working with abandoned materials to cobble his broken-down home, from chimney and stairs to foundation. The grueling process not only reveals his growing maturity, but also becomes a window on the look and feel of present-day Detroit and the neighborly people struggling to achieve satisfying lives there. Philp ably outlines the broad issues of race and class in the city, but it is the warmth and liveliness of his storytelling that will win many readers. “It is your sacred duty to find hope somewhere,” he reminds us.

A standout in the Detroit rehab genre.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-9798-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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