A pungent evocation of the conflict and compromise between tradition and innovation that define modern urbanism.

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THE ONLY STREET IN PARIS

LIFE ON THE RUE DES MARTYRS

After taking a tart look at her adopted country in La Seduction (2011, etc.), Sciolino shows a softer side in this affectionate portrait of her Ninth Arrondissement neighborhood.

Not that the veteran foreign correspondent for the New York Times and Newsweek indulges in unbridled sentimentality. Yes, the author fell in love with her apartment when she walked into its cobblestoned courtyard and “was transported back to the first half of the nineteenth century,” and she praises the shop-lined rue des Martyrs 500 feet from her front door because it “has retained the feel of a small village.” But in an early chapter lamenting the closing of a family-run fish store, Sciolino acknowledges that the frozen fish sold for half the price at the local supermarket is actually pretty good. She still misses the chance to linger and talk fish at the old poissonnerie. She relishes the formal intimacy of relationships with the merchants, and her brisk, lucid prose conveys the charm of unspoken rules that govern all interactions: newcomers must prove they know the code before they too get the freshest piece of fish cut in the back room or the loan of a book they can’t afford to buy. Sciolino understands this mindset, because her Sicilian-American grandfather had the same distrust of strangers. Over the course of five years she became accepted enough to throw the wildly successful party bringing together the street’s two halves: the more gentrified lower portion in the Ninth, and the tawdrier, cheaper stretch that runs through Montmartre. “Le Potluck” closes the book on an elegiac note, but chapters in between also chronicle darker moments: a columnist who survived the January 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo lives on the rue des Martyrs, and a high school down the way annually commemorates 19 students and one teacher killed by the Nazis.

A pungent evocation of the conflict and compromise between tradition and innovation that define modern urbanism.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-24237-9

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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