Laskas is an endearing, scrambled character, her swarming thoughts torturing readers as they torture her.

THE EXACT SAME MOON

FIFTY ACRES AND A FAMILY

A chattery yet appealing return to the turf of Fifty Acres and a Poodle (2000): the author’s life on and off Sweetwater Farm in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania.

No longer plagued by country mouse/city mouse doubts, Laskas is taking to her rural existence. “I am really happy,” she writes, simple words so many wish they could say. “I love living here. Driving around, you feel like you've entered a very good dream.” Then, to her husband Alex, “I'm happy. I'm madly in love with you. I often feel like the luckiest person alive to have this life.” By now, readers are getting the point: (1) Laskas is happy; (2) she likes to cover the ground thoroughly, like a blue tick working a scent. Inevitably, there is a snake in her Eden: her mother’s sudden paralysis. Laskas, the youngest child in her family, is hit broadside, seeing Mom as a “helpless bird” and herself as the “Utterly Useless Sister” (though her bedside presence is anything but). As her mother recovers, Laskas notices that “the more I stand here caring for my mother, the more of her helplessness I see, the more mother I seem to become.” The 40-year-old author wants a child of her own, but her eggs aren't what they used to be, nor is her 50-something husband’s sperm. Difficult as it is, Laskas manages to find the humor in failed in-vitro fertilization: “And my story, at the moment, is a used needle in a Wal-Mart bathroom.” (It’s a long story.) The couple decides to adopt a Chinese child, and no matter how tired readers are of the author’s mutts and neighbors, they will probably fall hard for her first meeting with her daughter. “Right. I know what to do. Of course I do. Here goes. This is what a mother does. I open my arms, and she falls in.”

Laskas is an endearing, scrambled character, her swarming thoughts torturing readers as they torture her.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2003

ISBN: 0-553-80263-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

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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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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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