An often engaging memoir that will be a valuable contribution to any self-help library.

STAY. PRESENT.

Gell’s debut memoir recounts her experiences during her infant granddaughter’s brain cancer treatments.

When the author got the call from her daughter Ros, that Claire, the author’s 5-month-old granddaughter, had been diagnosed with brain cancer, she felt at a loss at how to support them. In this book, the author, a marriage and family psychotherapist, blends a step-by-step account of Claire’s medical treatments and its effects on the family with “some of the many things I learned about myself and life in the process.” While in the pediatric intensive care unit with Claire, Ros asked, “What do I do Mom?,” to which Gell answered, “You feel what you’re feeling, and you make the best decisions that you can for her sake.” At first, the author castigated herself, thinking this answer to be another way of saying, “I have no idea.” Upon reflection, however, she began to see it as helpful, because “The real challenge is to find a way to stay present as much as we can. This is how we avoid drowning in the situation.” Raised as a Presbyterian by parents whose answer to any crisis was to “soldier on,” Gell found her own ways to handle life’s crises, turning to qi gong, acupuncture, and reiki alternative-healing approaches when faced with health challenges. Young Claire underwent chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, and throughout the ordeal, the author shows how she confronted her own visceral emotional responses (“How could this be happening to us?”) with pragmatic problem-solving techniques. Overall, Gell provides a heart-wrenching account that not only draws on her personal, emotional experience, but also her professional work as a therapist. For example, she offers readers a 10-point list of ways to “stay present” when faced with a long-term medical crisis. For the most part, the first-person narrative is engaging and its urgency drives the story forward. However, as the book goes on, readers may find themselves skimming over some of the flashbacks that deal with childhood fears and psychological issues.  

An often engaging memoir that will be a valuable contribution to any self-help library.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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