A powerful and heartfelt “slice of life” tale.



How Apple’s Siri made a life-altering difference for an autistic boy.

Expanded from a viral New York Times op-ed column she penned in 2014, this new book by Allure contributing editor Newman (You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman: Diary of a New (Older) Woman, 2004, etc.) compiles bittersweet anecdotes about her son Gus’ bond with the Apple app Siri. “Autism does not entirely define my son, but it informs so much about him and our life together,” writes the author, who birthed twin sons Gus and Henry prematurely. Writing with wit, humor, and effervescent honesty, Newman charts her history with twin sons who became distinctly different even prior to their first birthdays. Gus began exhibiting a marked lack of interest in his surroundings, eating only one food type at a time, and notable developmental and communicative delays. When he was diagnosed at age 6 as being on the autistic spectrum, Newman asked herself why and attempted to find and place causative blame. As Gus matured, she was continually heartbroken by the cruelty of children and even ill-mannered adults, yet she was also empowered to make a difference in her son’s life by observing, learning, and making his experience as close to happiness as she could. Among the many challenges were Gus’ growth impediments and numerous doctor appointments where she felt judged. The author also shares stories of how Henry grew up as the doting brother who always loved Gus yet often became exasperated. Early on, Gus had an affinity for music and singing, and Newman writes gleefully of his development of a “relationship” with Siri. This odd yet endearing pairing comprises the book’s rewarding and adorable closing third, a funny, warmhearted narrative of wry wisdom derived from the foibles of both Gus and Henry and powered by a maternal love that autism could never compromise. “In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us,” writes the author, “it’s worth considering another side of the story.”

A powerful and heartfelt “slice of life” tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241362-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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 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...


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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