A unique, often marvelous memoir of discovery.


Schmidt recounts his lifelong quest to understand his father, a journalist who fled Germany on the eve of World War II, in this investigative memoir.

Schmidt’s father, Pascasio Trujillo, was not like other fathers in 1930s Berlin. He didn’t live with Schmidt and his brother, Roni, or their mother, Klara, though his infrequent visits were a source of joy. Schmidt knew that his father had come from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and that he had a mother and sister in Cuba. One day in 1939, Pascasio arrived abruptly at the apartment and said they needed to leave Germany immediately. Klara refused, so Pascasio went without them. “That Friday morning changed me,” remembers Schmidt. “I would search for an answer most of my life. I wanted my father back. Even after a lifetime, I still hear Pascasio tearing down the stairs, two and three steps at a time.” He would encounter his father again, years later, though his search for answers took much longer and crisscrossed the globe, from Hitler’s Berlin to Nazi-occupied Poland to Franco’s Spain, Castro’s Cuba, the border-crossing highways of Central America, the safe haven of Canada, and ultimately to the Canary Islands of Pascasio’s birth. Along the way, Schmidt’s search for his father becomes one for himself as the absence of one man becomes the crucible in which another is forged. Schmidt writes in an elegant, thoughtful prose that captures the author’s quiet but insistent pining for understanding: “In Madrid, I got off the plane and slowly regained my bearings. From Pascasio’s last short letter, I had the impression that he looked forward to seeing me. I was sure he would be curious about my experience meeting his Cuban mother. I was so surprised when he did not ask.” The book is long, and not every chapter is thrilling, but Schmidt provides a first-person account of so many fascinating times and places that it more than makes up for the lulls. The enigma of Pascasio becomes secondary to the experience of viewing major developments of the 20th century through one man’s personal development.

A unique, often marvelous memoir of discovery.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5255-2465-3

Page Count: 648

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

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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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