FIVE THOUSAND DAYS LIKE THIS ONE

AN AMERICAN FAMILY HISTORY

A lovely and melancholy history of her family and its farm, a holdout in the soil-poor Northeast, from Brox (Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and Its Family, 1995). The place has 40 cleared acres, 100 in woodlot, and another dozen given over to peaches and apples—Baldwins, of course, no longer in favor despite their spicy juices. This is a typical New England farm, clasping “its small fields set off by chinked walls and the mixed woods beyond” and typical too in its poor luck, though the homestead has not nearly so bad a case of the dwindles as Brox’s father, who commits to her the family past as he lies dying. Brox shoulders her father’s mantle. Poring over his papers and walking the land, she experiences (and coaxes life from) the farm as her father must have 50 years before. She also turns caretaker of the family stories and tells with care and artistry the tale of her Lebanese grandparents, come to the Lawrence, Mass., woolen and worsted mills, there adding Arabic to the babel of languages heard over the clacking of the looms. They bought a small farm and raised cows: “Five cents a quart, three cents a pint—the first customers got all the cream—until his ladle scraped the bottom of a can and he poured the last blue milk into a mason jar.” Brox recounts all the little ways the Great War made inroads into their lives, the impossibly grim influenza pandemic of 1918, and the workers” strikes that shut the mills of Lawrence and Lowell, where “the noise in the weave rooms was loud enough to break the sleep of earth.” Unlike the mill owners, Brox plans to stay put. This is quite beautiful music, the sound of a family’s life that keeps ringing in a daughter’s ears.

Pub Date: March 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-8070-2106-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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

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