Not for everyone but candid and topical.

WE NEED TO TALK

A MEMOIR ABOUT WEALTH

A philanthropist and dot-com–boom millionaire broaches the topic of extreme affluence by exploring the impact sudden wealth had on her life.

Risher joined the Microsoft human resources department in 1991 after leaving a fledgling career in advertising. At $26,000, her starting salary was modest. But the stock options that came with her job began to skyrocket less than two years later, and her 1995 marriage to a Microsoft executive catapulted her into stratospheric heights of wealth. Yet her new life was no fairy tale. The daughter of middle-class parents who inculcated the importance of frugality, she suddenly discovered her own greed. She remembers, for example, how her nearly one-carat diamond engagement ring only whetted an appetite for a “bigger, flawless, colorless, perfectly-cut stone.” But Risher worked on moderating her desires. Rather than buy a McMansion, she and her husband settled on a house that fit their status as urban professionals. When she eventually left Microsoft to raise children, she worried about lacking deeper purpose and alienating middle-class friends and family members. Aware that the public education system was broken, the author enrolled her children in a private school where parents “sized one another up” and competed to make the largest donations. Eventually, Risher became involved in charitable giving projects. She also connected with other affluent women who made her realize that feeling insecure and struggling to speak openly about money with friends and family were part of the price one paid for being newly wealthy. The naiveté and guilt the author demonstrates may frustrate some readers, but her honesty about the personal dark sides that sudden wealth revealed is admirable, as is her stated wish to see “a system…that helps redistribute the wealth at the top” for the benefit of all. In an era of income inequality, her book, which offers discussion questions about money and wealth throughout, offers a starting point for an uncomfortable subject of increasing importance to everyone.

Not for everyone but candid and topical.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939096-46-3

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Xeno/Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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