A wonderful tribute to the greatness of the human spirit.

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NO BARRIERS

A BLIND MAN'S JOURNEY TO KAYAK THE GRAND CANYON

The first blind man to climb Mount Everest narrates his kayaking descent of 300 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

On one level, this is a tale of grit, determination, courage, and overcoming tremendous odds. With co-author Levy, Weihenmayer (The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles Into Greatness, 2007, etc.) presents an exhilarating adventure story of arduous mountain climbing and whitewater kayaking, but he also offers broader life lessons. Over the course of eight years, the author organized his kayaking team as a byproduct of helping others, including blind orphans in Tibet and Nepal, blind teenagers in America, and veterans of our recent wars recovering from physical and mental wounds. Among them was Kyle, an amputee who pledged to scatter a fallen comrade’s ashes from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and a shy blind kid named Joey, who had never peeled an orange. Weihenmayer’s organization No Barriers is intended to address those in need in many different ways. For one, the author works intensively with youth. “For blind kids to succeed,” he writes, “they don’t just need other blind people. They’ll need to work with seeing people to harness those abilities and learn to thrive in the sighted world.” Weihenmayer elaborates on the skills required to achieve significant goals, including finding the right people, technologies, and methods necessary to accomplish these goals. It took a team of 10 to help the author make his descent down the Colorado, and the stories of the team members, some of whom had been with the author through many adventures, add to the narrative. Together, they developed a plan of attack for each of the rapids and unique communication and power supply methods, and they were backed by a logistics operation moving tons of equipment. Ultimately, in this highly inspirational tale, the Grand Canyon, like Everest and other summits, becomes a metaphor for life: “physical, mental, and psychological and…never ending.”

A wonderful tribute to the greatness of the human spirit.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08878-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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