Ryan tells this touching story of survival, love and absolution as only a mother could, while sparing none of the...

THE WATER GIVER

THE STORY OF A MOTHER, A SON, AND A SECOND CHANCE

Journalist Ryan (Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, 1995, etc.) recounts the unexpected positive consequences of her son’s traumatic brain injury.

Until her adopted son was 16, parenthood had never flowed naturally for the author, and she viewed herself as an incompetent mother to a child with significant developmental challenges. First diagnosed as a toddler, her son had an underdeveloped central nervous system that caused him to meet the demands of daily life with irrationality and inflexibility. A kindhearted and complex child, he couldn’t tell time or recount a story in chronological order by middle school, but he had insights into God by the age of four. Ever the journalist, Ryan approached him as she would an assignment, with notes and research instead of acceptance and understanding. But when a skateboard accident caused a near-fatal skull fracture with bleeding and swelling in his brain, Ryan was forced to meet acceptance head-on. When her son awoke from his coma, Ryan experienced the emotions of a mother at the birth of her child as she couldn’t before, giving herself over for the first time, wholly and completely, to her son. During the nearly 100 days of his hospitalized recovery process, Ryan chronicles the literal rebirth of her son, as he relearned to speak (his first word was “Mom”), to stand and to walk. Reborn herself, Ryan became a new mother, watching her child reveal himself to her, consumed by the palpable love of a parent and becoming the nurturing mother her son had always needed. While exposing the exhaustive and unpredictable nature of brain injuries, Ryan illustrates the ways in which catastrophic events produce acceptance, revealing gifts amid destruction and the healing energy of thought and prayer.

Ryan tells this touching story of survival, love and absolution as only a mother could, while sparing none of the journalistic details of a child in trauma and a family in grief.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7652-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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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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