A feel-good, bittersweet memoir with few surprises.

Veterinarian Vogelsang pays tribute to the dogs that have played important roles in her life and professional practice.

The author punctuates the narrative with deaths, beginning with the untimely passing of her husband's best friend, Kevin. She writes movingly of how she tried but failed to comfort him and how their dog, Kekoa, succeeded. As a child, her family's dog, Taffy, offered her the companionship otherwise lacking in her life. Vogelsang explains that she was an introverted child with few friends who endured bullying. With high grades, her plan was to become a doctor; however, marriage to Brian, her college sweetheart, reinforced her decision to pursue a less stressful career as a veterinarian. Taffy's death occurred in the first years of their marriage. She made the fortunate choice of taking a job with CareClinic, a highly structured corporation with clinics across the country. This situation, she explains, suited her perfectly. One of her patients was Emmett, a 2-year-old dog with an allergy to fleas, whose owner wanted him euthanized rather than pay ongoing veterinarian expenses. She cajoled her husband into allowing her to adopt Emmett into their family, which now included a daughter and son. When her son was 2 and his sister 6, Emmett developed an untreatable cancer. His death left a painful gap in all their lives, and the parents had to explain it. Although they were not a religious family, they told the children about Emmett’s ascent to heaven. The title of the memoir is based on her son's confusion of heaven with the name of their family friend Kevin, who at that time was alive and well. “The pain of loss,” writes the author, “is the price we have to pay for all the wonder we accumulate building up to it.”

A feel-good, bittersweet memoir with few surprises.

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4555-5493-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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