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An inspirational affirmation of the unique worth of every individual.

A psychotherapist and leading advocate for women with disabilities chronicles her struggles to overcome prejudice and discrimination.

As someone with cerebral palsy, Rousso (Gender Matters: Training for Educators Working with Students with Disabilities, 2002, etc.) had to cope with physical limitations (controlling her motions, blurred speech, an ungainly appearance and contorted facial expressions) and the response of others to them. She describes her own shock at seeing her image in a mirror, and she forced herself to confront the reality of her “loopy, lopsided walk; those darting, dancing shoulders; those wandering, wiggly fingers; that goofy, gimpy smile.” The author credits her mother with nurturing her sense of independence and self-worth, despite her insistence that it was necessary to try to disguise her disabilities in order to make herself more acceptable to “the normalcy brigade.” Growing up in the 1950s, Rousso faced “[i]gnorance, fear, nastiness, and prejudice” against the disabled and the expectation that a woman's destiny was shaped by her ability to attract a husband. Her father told her that he would not have married someone with her disabilities. Nonetheless, Rousso credits her disability with giving her the freedom to pursue a career outside the home—where she also experienced prejudice. After receiving her master’s degree, she was expelled from the psychotherapeutic training institute where she was enrolled because the staff feared that her appearance would upset clients. Rousso writes that the feminist movement of the 1970s gave her the strength to free herself from internalizing such cultural stereotypes. She became a successful psychotherapist and mentor for disabled young women. Two decades later, the author formed an enduring love relationship. Now, writes Rousso, she is able to accept her body and sense its uncontrolled motions “as signs of life, not limits.”

An inspirational affirmation of the unique worth of every individual.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4399-0937-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Temple Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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