A well-paced memoir steeped in strife, struggle, sorrow, and, eventually, freedom.

Leaving Shangrila

THE TRUE STORY OF A GIRL, HER TRANSFORMATION AND HER EVENTUAL ESCAPE

The poignant life story of a woman who escaped a restrictive past to embrace an independent future.   

Gecils’ inspirational debut memoir, 11 years in the making, is both an astute character study and a harrowing familial drama that plays out in the lush environs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The author grew up as a middle child; she had two sisters, although she says her mother secretly wished for sons. In order to support the family, the author’s father became a software programmer at IBM and traveled a great deal; their lonely mother dejectedly handed off child-rearing responsibilities to a maid, a nanny, and the children’s grandparents. Desperate for acceptance, Gecils’ mother reached out to the superstitious spiritual sects in Rio for direction and embarked on a long-term, clandestine affair as her daughters attended a local French private school. The author’s misery escalated, she says, when her mother unceremoniously whisked her and her sisters to Shangrila, a cramped, isolated “make-shift farm” in the Brazilian forest, with their staunchly pious new stepfather, Lauro, who pursued a delirious mission to father the next “Messiah.” Gecils’ experience becomes gradually more harrowing as she finds herself a virtual prisoner on the farm. The author paces her personal narrative well, taking time to describe both the history of her family and of Brazil’s capital city. She also reveals details of her religious indoctrination at the hands of her mother and stepfather; they urged her to see prophetic visions at the cult’s meetings, she says, and she became further isolated after her biological father remarried and severed ties. She also dealt with sexual abuse, domestic violence, and bullying, which led her to make plans for a new life, unencumbered by her militant stepfather’s rules. Gecils’ resonant chronicle explores themes of belonging, family allegiance, and starting over. As it does so, it effectively tells the story of the burgeoning liberation of a young girl who had her eye on a bright horizon.

A well-paced memoir steeped in strife, struggle, sorrow, and, eventually, freedom.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63047-684-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more