THE CHOICE

EMBRACE THE POSSIBLE

A searing, astute study of intensive healing and self-acceptance through the absolution of suffering and atrocity.

A mental health professional braids stories of her patients’ epiphanies with her own personal journey through Nazi Germany.

As a Holocaust survivor and clinical psychologist, 89-year-old Eger is often introduced to her audiences at speaking engagements as “the Anne Frank who didn’t die.” Her poignantly crafted memoir is a meditation on two motifs: the internal struggle of psychologically troubled individuals and the deep shadows cast upon the future of a concentration camp survivor. As a teenager living as the “silent sister” in a dynamic Jewish-Hungarian family in Czechoslovakia, the author recalls being forcibly “resettled” to a labor camp and then transported by train as “human cargo” to Auschwitz, where her parents were promptly executed. Eger was somehow spared, and notoriously sadistic executioner Josef Mengele commanded her to dance in exchange for rare bread rations. Sent to other concentration camps, she was plucked, nearly lifeless, from a carcass heap as the war ended. She married, bore children, befriended fellow survivor Viktor Frankl, and began the “cautious joy” of a new life and career in America. Yet she grew desperate to redress a history scarred by evil: “I began to formulate a new relationship with my own trauma.” Crosscutting this intensely bittersweet narrative are portraitures of the author’s clinical patients, many of whose experiences mirrored much of what Eger had to overcome in order to thrive in society. She intriguingly compares her office sessions, and in mining the roots of pain and victimization, she declares that “suffering is universal…but victimhood is optional.” The distressed fabric of the author’s traumatic past becomes a beautiful backdrop for a memoir written with integrity and conviction. Throughout, Eger is strong in her knowledge of what makes life better for those of us willing to relinquish past “regret and unresolved grief” and “enjoy the full, rich feast of life.”

A searing, astute study of intensive healing and self-acceptance through the absolution of suffering and atrocity.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3078-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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

Close Quickview