A rare glimpse into the color guard lifestyle with personal touches that rescue the book from becoming pure pageantry.

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LIVING IN A WORLD OF MUSIC & MOTION

Chandler’s debut memoir takes readers behind the scenes of the little-understood world of color guard.

The author’s story begins in a small Southern town, where his classmates routinely bullied him with a “constant barrage” of homophobic slurs. The author’s passion for performance, though, helped him flower, and after he watched a marching band on television, he was inspired by its precision and power. He learned the trombone and soon became heavily involved in the college color guard. As Chandler describes becoming a director and eventually leading his corps to several championships, it’s evident that he’s very good at what he does. He frames his narrative with an anecdote about the musical TV show Glee, whose producers hired him to choreograph a scene: “Here I was, a part of bringing color guard to a musical television show about a group of kids who were alienated as outsiders in high school.” He later met Stanley Knaub, a renowned choreographer, who playfully called Chandler the “Pixie from Dixie.” Color guard is an art form that requires a lot of discipline, and Chandler offers a surprisingly candid perspective on it: “It’s all show business….There’s an audience that has paid good money to come and see you and you have something to communicate.” This book is an all-encompassing autobiography, narrating the full arc of the author’s life and work. The prose style can be dry and uneven. At its best, though, it has the glossy, appreciative tone of a commencement speech, offering an equal mix of sweet anecdotes and life lessons. In a late chapter, “Putting it Together,” the story transforms into a manifesto about the creative process, and the next, “Dear Performers…,” is an open letter to his mentees. Although Chandler writes that he didn’t know how to finish the book, his finale is particularly sentimental. Alienated youths with a creative streak will likely find inspiration in this story.

A rare glimpse into the color guard lifestyle with personal touches that rescue the book from becoming pure pageantry.

Pub Date: June 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5119-6033-5

Page Count: 242

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2015

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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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