An enjoyable and unassuming memoir of India.

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Landing right Side Up in Nehru's India

FIELD NOTES FROM A PUNJAB SOJOURN

A memoir of an Ohio family’s enlightening and often culturally jarring 1960s sojourn to India.

In this slim volume dedicated to her children and grandchildren, Harlan admirably succeeds in preserving her wide-eyed, motherly memories of a life-altering family adventure in India from August 1962 to May 1963, spent mostly in the Punjabi capitol of Chandigarh. She writes that she was prompted to write the memoir by Virginia Woolf’s admonition that nothing really happens until it’s been described. While her Fulbright-scholar husband taught nearby, Harlan, who holds a degree in home economics from the University of Wisconsin, learned the mystifying ropes of domesticity in and around the family’s spare, but servant-rich, lodgings. Her four young children attended book-poor, architecturally austere schools where corporal punishment for minor infractions was still the norm. Harlan stepped in when her youngest daughter complained of being smacked in the head by her teachers. In a plot twist worthy of Charles Dickens, Harlan took a teaching post herself at a local school for girls whose stern female principal studied at Harlan’s alma mater. The principal proved a taskmaster, and Harlan learned she was capable of more than she thought—a transforming lesson that she carried home with her. Harlan’s family, however, never quite seemed to quite get its balance during its relatively short stay; all but the author were anxious to get home. This comfortably well written narrative is less compelling when describing special family occasions and visits to India’s famous places. (And, despite its title, the book has little to do with Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian prime minister at the time of the Harlan’s stay.) Harlan, a now-retired clinical psychologist and professor in Ohio, augments her memories with letters and notes.

An enjoyable and unassuming memoir of India.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475956245

Page Count: 148

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2013

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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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