SEX, MOM, AND GOD

HOW THE BIBLE'S STRANGE TAKE ON SEX LED TO CRAZY POLITICS--AND HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE WOMEN (AND JESUS) ANYWAY

In the third installment of the “God Trilogy,” prolific novelist and nonfiction author Schaeffer (Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), 2009, etc.) tells “the truth” about his mother’s curious impartation of religion and sex.

The author’s mother Edith played as much a spiritual role as his father, the late Evangelist Francis Schaeffer, and continues to do so at 96, though her memory loss and sight deterioration defy them both. The book shines in sections centered on Edith, a “life-embracing free spirit” whose sexual education of her son began with a show-and-tell of her diaphragm to him at age eight while on a family vacation. This candid abandon extended to matters outside of sexuality as well. The author distinctly remembers Edith praising a God that foreknew and condoned the miscarriage of her first male child in favor of subsequently giving birth to Schaeffer. He attributes life growing up with three sisters as vital to his affinity for women in later years, though they usurped too much of his parents’ time and attention back then. As a woman who’d sacrificed a dancing career to become a religious juggernaut, Edith’s fiery personality and sexual extroversion were contradictory to the piousness that defined her, yet she managed to formulate extraordinary interpretations. From advising women to wear sheer, black lingerie to keep their husbands’ interest to confessing Francis’ sexual demands on her—all were justified with biblical significance. A consummate memoirist, Schaeffer fills the narrative with interesting anecdotes about his sex life, like a nervous first-time encounter with a French woman and the ice-girl he fashioned (and attempted to mate with) while growing up in the Swiss mission his parents founded. The author’s heated rejection of modern Evangelicalism and discussions of abortion, Reconstructionist movements and even Sarah Palin rob the memoir of the loving glow cast by Edith’s legacy, but the sage conversation on a New York–bound bus with a distraught Asian girl is warmly resonant and a befitting conclusion to an occasionally disjointed book of ruminations, memories and frustrated opinion. Sweet and savory familial adoration.

 

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-306-81928-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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