A graceful tribute and a touching act of gratitude.




An articulate statement of the enduring power of Anne Frank’s original work joined with a brief biography, an analysis of the 1955 play and 1959 film based on the diary, some attacks on Holocaust deniers and a few thoughts on approaches to teaching the work.

Prose (Goldengrove, 2008, etc.) first read The Diary of a Young Girl (1952) when she was a child, and later saw the original production of the play on Broadway. Recently she reread Diary and was even more impressed with its young author’s accomplishment. She believes that Frank was an artist, her diary—more accurately a memoir, the author asserts—a work of art. Prose takes us through the text, pointing out its literary merits, generally in convincing fashion, though she is sometimes so insistent and earnest an advocate that she sacrifices just a bit of credibility. The author reviews the history of the Frank family, emphasizing how Anne began as a child diarist and later, in hiding, grew into a more mature, reflective writer, revising and refining with an eye toward postwar publication. Prose properly credits the 1989 Critical Edition of the diary, the volume that first presented Frank’s versions of the diary in parallel columns—as well as the overwhelming scientific evidence of the diary’s authenticity. The author wrestles with Frank’s reputation today, at first uncomfortable with her becoming a symbol of naïve hopefulness, then forgiving of anything that draws readers to the book. Prose rehearses the internecine, nasty struggle to bring Diary to the stage, and chronicles Meyer Levin’s descent into near madness as he sought, unsuccessfully, to be the diary’s playwright. The author attacks both the stage and screen versions for their portrayals of Frank, at times, as a dimwit. She also has little good to say about the actresses who portrayed Frank. Prose also blasts the infrahuman Holocaust deniers and ends with some fairly perfunctory, even ordinary thoughts about teaching the book.

A graceful tribute and a touching act of gratitude.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-143079-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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