UNDER A RED SKY

MEMOIR OF A CHILDHOOD IN COMMUNIST ROMANIA

In this rich, insightful memoir, Molnar offers a child’s-eye view of life in Romania in the late 1950s. Known as Eva Zimmerman then, she lived in a crowded but loving Bucharest home that included her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They are a lively, eccentric bunch brought vividly to life in a simple first-person, present-tense narration. Especially endearing is Eva’s relationship with her grandfather, who encourages her to embrace her Jewish heritage. Her cinematographer father, a survivor of several concentration camps who lost his parents to the Holocaust, is haunted by his experiences. Eva learns from her grandmother the complicity of Romania’s World War II fascist regime in the murder of thousands of Jews. With anti-Semitism still pervasive in Communist Romania, Eva keeps her Jewish identity secret from classmates when she begins school. The author vividly depicts the harsh realities of life under fascist rule: scarcity of food and housing, ideological indoctrination in school and constant fear of the Securitate, the secret police who are always watching and listening. Black-and-white family photographs illustrate this poignant, memorable memoir. (Memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-374-31840-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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JAM!

THE STORY OF JAZZ MUSIC

A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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