A poignant and painful memoir of a son's suicide—the dark side of Mother's Day. At one point in this brief volume, Vanderbilt (The Memory Book of Starr Faithfull, 1994) says of herself, ``There's a place deep inside me that is hard as a diamond.'' It would have to be to survive not only the traumas of Vanderbilt's childhood (described in 1985's Once Upon a Time), but the sudden death of her husband Wyatt Cooper when their two sons were still young, and the death of her son Carter at age 24. The story begins as a celebration of the family that Gloria and Wyatt Cooper built together. The narrative is interspersed with diary entries recalling an idyllic family summer at the beach, with eulogies from Carter's brother and friends, and a prescient poem by Carter. Even after their father's death, the boys escape the spoiled rich kid syndrome. Carter finishes college, gets a job, falls in love, all the while impressing his peers as ``pure'' and ``good.'' On the day he dies, Carter does move back to his mother's house, exhibiting somewhat curious but not worrisome behavior. Waking from a long afternoon nap, Carter is at first disoriented and then, in an aberrant act, he races to the terrace of the apartment, climbs on its rampart and sits there before dropping to his death on the street below. His mother tries desperately to reach him, to talk him back down off the ledge, to recall him to sanity, to no avail. Vanderbilt relives that day and those moments again and again, in therapy, with her friends, and in the sorrowful letters she writes to Carter. Slowly she begins to heal—that is her message—but she will never be the same. A sometimes clumsy structure only underlines the remarkable intensity of feeling that Vanderbilt conveys. The reader will bear the weight of her sorrow, even after the book is closed.

Pub Date: May 10, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-45052-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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