Bold, charming, and inspirational.

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A Californian polio survivor shares memories of her challenging but fulfilling life in this debut memoir.

Falk-Allen remembers being what she refers to as a “normie”—“what the ‘crip’ community…calls non-disabled people.” Her memoir opens with her as a toddler in 1950, running carefree down West 109th Street in the Westmont neighborhood of Los Angeles. This was her last memory of running; at 3 years old, she contracted spinal polio, causing paralysis of her right leg. Doctors said that she’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Falk-Allen recounts her two weeks in quarantine, which was followed by six months in a rehab center that felt like imprisonment. She began physical therapy and, contrary to her doctor’s initial prognosis, was able to learn how to walk with assistance from crutches and a leg brace. But after she was released, she faced new adversity as she tried to assimilate as a “normie.” She charts her growing interest in boys, her high school fascination with rock ’n’ roll during the mid-1960s, her time as a co-ed at San José State University and the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and her development into a confident young woman. Along the way, the author shares many painful memories; as a child, she says, she was injected with a muscle relaxant every day for 180 consecutive days, which resulted in her becoming “permanently needle-averse.” But she recalls her difficulties with unflinching prose, and her directness and dry humor are captivating: “I have never felt I had the choice to Scarlett O’Hara my experience (‘I’ll think about that later’).” Some readers may interpret this candor as overly abrupt, or even unfunny; the author is aware of this possibility, but she knows her target audience: “if you are a fan of Monty Python, I ask you to remember the irony of the song, ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’—sung while Brian was being crucified—as you read on.” Overall, this is a frank, no-nonsense account of living with a disability edged with a razor-sharp wit.

Bold, charming, and inspirational.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-391-5

Page Count: 364

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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 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...


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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