A heartwarming story that explores the power of friendship as well as race, sexuality, talent, and identity.

OFFICER CLEMMONS

A MEMOIR

The extraordinary story of one of Mister Rogers’ most groundbreaking and endearing “neighbors,” Officer Clemmons.

Recently, the late Fred Rogers deservedly won posthumous attention thanks to the award-winning documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor and the Tom Hanks vehicle A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. A dear friend of Rogers for three decades, Clemmons offers a firsthand account of his work on Rogers’ show, a story intertwined with the author’s remarkable career as an operatic singer, actor, playwright, and choir director. The autobiography opens with a touching letter from Clemmons to Rogers, thanking him for all of his compassionate lessons. An abbreviated opening recounts the author’s troubled childhood followed by his hard-earned escape to Oberlin College. There, he blossomed both creatively and personally, embracing his homosexuality as well as a deep spirituality that transcended any singular faith. While singing at a church in Pittsburgh, Clemmons met Rogers, about to break nationally with his whimsical children’s show. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Clemmons guest-starred on the show frequently, soon becoming a regular “neighbor” and the first African American to be featured on a children’s program. Clemmons originated his character, the friendly policeman Officer Clemmons, partially as a way to reconcile his frequent conflicts with the police and other authority figures. The author chronicles the friction that resulted from Rogers’ employing an openly gay man on his show, which forced Clemmons to repress his true nature. Nevertheless, their friendship continued to deepen. After Rogers ended a show on a characteristically hopeful note—“You make every day a special day just by being you, and I like you just the way you are”—a spellbound Clemmons asked if he was speaking to him. “Yes, I was,” Rogers replied. “I have been talking to you for years. You finally heard me today.”

A heartwarming story that explores the power of friendship as well as race, sexuality, talent, and identity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-94822-670-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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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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