A strikingly honest, if unevenly written, account of time spent with life and death.

A memoir of one woman’s experiences with tragedy and spirituality.

Debut author Marie’s 11-year-old daughter Emily suddenly died while attending a soccer camp in 1983. The author includes a photo of her open casket, adorned with cloth rainbows and stuffed animals. Marie wondered how she could carry on after such a shocking occurrence, and she explains that she “needed assurance” that Emily “was being cared for in heaven.” This led her to become involved with a church called the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and to adopt a personal policy to “Let Go and Let God.” She met a man named Jim Daily in 1988 and soon married him; they became close as both followed MSIA techniques and found inspiration in the words of the movement’s founder, John-Roger Hinkins. The author tells of life with Jim in different parts of Alabama, of adopting an anti-inflammatory diet to counter arthritis, and of eventually supporting Jim as he battled cancer. This memoir includes many evocative details, such as how the author accomplished the nearly unthinkable task of piecing together what happened on the last day of her daughter’s life. Other portions of the book, however, are less engaging, such as a list of real estate transactions that she conducted with Jim. The latter is relevant, as the couple moved often in a short period of time, but it provides little in the way of emotional substance. The book is at its most touching when it explores spiritual specifics; for instance, Marie says that every night, she and Jim meditated and “practiced leaving our body, intending to rest in the healing arms of God’s Love.” Some moments rely heavily on MSIA-related language, such as “We held this focus to ask for the Light of Father/Mother/God.” In the end, readers will come to understand how the author met the challenge of meeting death head-on.

A strikingly honest, if unevenly written, account of time spent with life and death.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-8751-4

Page Count: 238

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2018


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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