Full of vivid detail and emotion, this compelling memoir captures the ache of a young child desperate for safety and...

THE BROKEN CIRCLE

A MEMOIR OF ESCAPING AFGHANISTAN

Looking back on her perilous flight from Soviet-invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Ahmadi-Miller re-creates a child’s terror and loyalty to her family.

One of eight children in a wealthy family in Kabul, the author remembers her enchanted childhood before war as a time of “fun and camaraderie.” Her father, Padar, an engineer by training, worked at the American Embassy down the street from their house in the Karte Seh neighborhood and also as a landowner. His elegant wife, Miriam, was “a modern woman” who sewed beautiful clothes for the children, although she had a heart problem that would require her to leave for an operation in India. As one of the youngest, Ahmadi-Miller adored her older sisters, who had suitors and fine clothes. As the author records in this fluid text, she grew up in the 1970s, which was “one of the most prosperous periods in the history of Afghanistan,” when privileged children of both sexes were allowed to go to school and there were elements of Western mores and gender equality. However, in the countryside, there still existed devastating poverty and staunchly old-fashioned, conservative beliefs, as she would discover as they fled to Pakistan. With the violent arrival of the socialist, Soviet-backed coup, the family was no longer safe in Kabul. Padar, a proud, devoted Afghan, was being monitored by the Soviets and descended into alcoholism; Miriam fled with two of her children to India, leaving the others to fend for themselves. Even as a young child, the author came to the sinking realization that “Padar would never leave, and Mommy would never return to a country at war” despite Ahmadi-Miller’s ardent hopes that she would. The most harrowing section of the narrative concerns one of the family’s loyal bodyguards and his determination to whisk the remaining children into Pakistan without their father.

Full of vivid detail and emotion, this compelling memoir captures the ache of a young child desperate for safety and security.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0378-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

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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