A frank, earnest memoir of the difficulties of parenthood.

SUSPENDED SENTENCE

Morgan recounts her struggles to mother a troubled man in this debut mental health memoir.

As a single mother of an adolescent boy, Morgan reminded herself to pay close attention, knowing Dylan—like all sons—would change as he grew older. It wasn’t until June of 2011—when the then-23-year-old Dylan was arrested for firing an illegal gun after a party and was then also found to be growing marijuana in his apartment—that she realized just how far he had drifted from the boy she knew. Morgan, a college professor, was at first horrified by the impending gossip sure to spread through the small conservative Kentucky town, but she began to consider the warning signs: Dylan’s struggles with bipolar disorder, his DUIs, his refusal to find a job. After some cajoling, Dylan agreed to enter a Drug Court program that would help him avoid his three felony charges, though he only had one shot. Any mistakes would have landed him in jail. To ensure that Dylan completed the program, Morgan realized she needed to change strategies—to be more understanding of her son’s mental health and addiction problems, while not being too lenient. Morgan was forced to also consider her own co-dependency and find a path through the minefield of motherhood to save both her son and herself. Morgan’s prose is ruminative and laden with imagistic language: “For a long time, while my son was very young, I thought he was a smaller version of Attila the Hun. I thought he had only three settings on his dial: brash, bold, and barbarian.” Dylan is a difficult, often infuriating figure, and Morgan confronts his issues (and her own) with candid, sometimes-painful self-awareness. Her accounts of the justice system and rehabilitation are illuminating, and while the details sometimes overwhelm, the reading experience manages to capture the immense frustration that she (and others) no doubt felt. If memoirs exist to depict how some navigate situations that others can’t imagine, this one is a great success.

A frank, earnest memoir of the difficulties of parenthood.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-644-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2019

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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

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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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