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A provocative, profound, and moving account of a modern spiritual life.

Awards & Accolades

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A memoir recounts a woman’s tortured decision to become a nun and her later crisis of faith.

Osta (Jeremiah’s Hunger, 2011) was raised in Syracuse, New York, in the 1950s and ’60s in a staunchly conservative Catholic household. She attended Nazareth College in Rochester, which was founded by the Sisters of Saint Joseph, and studied speech correction, inspired by her work with children with special needs. The author was troubled by the tumult of the times and deeply saddened by the news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. But she was also roused by how the civil rights movement encouraged women to fight for their own brand of emancipation. She was drawn to a life of religious devotion but also disenchanted in many ways with the Catholic Church—particularly its failure to live up to the promise of its Vatican II reforms. She confided her misgivings to Sister Tee, who gently encouraged her to consider becoming a nun. To her family’s surprise, Osta became a postulant with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. She was assigned her first mission teaching eighth grade at the Saint Francis Xavier School in Rochester—and eventually became the principal of another school, Saint Michael’s, at age 28. Still, she remained uncertain about her calling and frustrated by the plight of parochial schools, which she says were underfunded and under constant threat of closure. Overall, Osta’s remembrance is most notable for its philosophical, meditative tone. For example, she ruminates intelligently on the difficulties of maintaining a vow of celibacy at the height of the sexual revolution (and how she turned down a wedding proposal to join the Sisters), the failings of the modern Catholic Church, and the nature of spirituality. As a result, her account is impressively erudite—as a college student, she sought guidance from the works of philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Søren Kierkegaard—and her prose is at once lucid and unpretentiously refined. Osta does linger too long at times on minute details of the Catholic school system and its institutional foibles, but the memoir as a whole remains thoughtfully engrossing throughout.

A provocative, profound, and moving account of a modern spiritual life.

Pub Date: June 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-95379-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Cosmographia Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018


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



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

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