A frank, compassionate, and highly detailed account of the roller-coaster ride of caring for a disabled, autistic child.

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STRANGE BEAUTY

A PORTRAIT OF MY SON

Factor (Love Maps, 2015, etc.) chronicles life with her nonverbal son Felix, who is autistic and physically disabled.

When the planes hit the World Trade Center towers on 9/11, the author’s boyfriend, Jason, was near the buildings. While she waited for news from him, she had the agonizing fear that they might never have a child together, which led them to getting married and pregnant a year later. During her pregnancy, Factor contracted chicken pox, which, though she didn’t realize it at the time, hurt her growing fetus. In this honest memoir that vibrates with unconditional love, the author details what life is like with Felix and her other two children. It took many months, numerous visits to doctors and specialists, and endless tests before she found out just how handicapped Felix would be due to his lack of white matter in his brain. Factor adeptly chronicles each step of the process, each moment of triumph when Felix reached a new goal, and the times when she and her husband felt dismay and even shame when he failed to advance like the other toddlers around him. Throughout, readers gain a sense of the complexity of Felix, whether he’s happy, responding to music therapy, or engaged in some awful fit that forces him to scream and tear at his own body. Factor also discusses her other two children, who were born without such issues, her battles with the health care and educational systems, and her subsequent founding of the nonprofit community center Extreme Kids & Crew. The author’s story demonstrates the need for more quality help for parents of children with disabilities, who will find solace in knowing that others have struggled and found joy in this type of parenting.

A frank, compassionate, and highly detailed account of the roller-coaster ride of caring for a disabled, autistic child.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941529-72-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Parallax Press

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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