An engaging tale of one woman’s personal development.

Peace by the River


An emotional memoir of love and spirituality.

While on a trip in the Sierra Nevada in the 1940s, the author’s family stumbled across a group of fishermen angling an exceptionally large trout, and her father rented a cottage next to the lucky fisherman. This began the family’s annual pilgrimage to what they called “the ranch.” For Rossen, the younger of two sisters, the ranch inspired tranquility and communion with nature. It was a welcome change for the author, who throughout her life struggled with self-doubt and the feeling that she didn’t belong. She saw her mother and father as emotionally distant, and put her sister on a pedestal. When, during her teenage years, her family purchased the ranch, a deputy sheriff named Ed handed her a small bouquet, but she lacked the confidence to respond. Year after year, she and her father returned to work the ranch during fishing season, and her encounters with Ed continued. Even after the family sold the ranch, the adult author, with her husband and children, kept returning to vacation in the area, staying in cottages that Ed and his wife had built. By the time Ed and Rossen revealed their feelings for each other, they were both married—and conflicted about what to do next. Although Rossen focuses on the tension between her and Ed, she also provides a beautifully written account of a woman coming into her own. The book’s power comes from the author’s willingness to open up; she writes in first person, bringing the reader into her world, even when she experiences loss. She eventually develops the self-confidence she so needed earlier in life; for example, she’d long believed she was inferior to her sister, but found out later that her sister always thought that Rossen had the perfect life. Overall, the author’s innocence and honesty will help readers to root for her.

An engaging tale of one woman’s personal development.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 222

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2013

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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