The horrifying tale of a woman imprisoned in her own body. Tavalaro was a young wife and mother in 1966 when she suffered two strokes that sent her into a coma. Although she awoke soon after, the strokes had left her paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak. Believed to be brain-dead, she was largely abandoned by her husband. The story of Tavalaro's six-year attempt to prove herself cognizant and to be treated as such is gripping and terrifying. With the little movement she was capable of, Tavalaro tried to gain the attention of her caregivers, mostly women who referred to her as ``the vegetable'' and brutalized her with their thoughtlessness and callous words. Finally, a speech therapist, Arlene Kraat, uncovered the hospital staff's mistake. Of course, the end of one nightmare was also the beginning of another. Still paralyzed and mute, Tavalaro struggled to learn how to communicate, to gain the freedom of an electric wheelchair fitted to her needs, and to create a life of sorts within the confines of her deformed body and the often inhospitable hospital. And she continues to fight for the basic respect she deserves for having overcome the harshest of obstacles while retaining her humanity throughout. But while Tavalaro's story is compelling, her chronicle of it—compiled with much help from poet and writing instructor Tayson—is not. It often seems like reminiscences tossed together, and while Tayson claims to have been true to the author's voice, there are many passages that the reader is hard-pressed to believe emerged from Tavalaro, the poor daughter of immigrant parents and a high-school dropout who never read much more than the occasional romance novel. Still, worthy for the powerful insight it gives into the lives of the disabled. (8 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-56836-171-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Kodansha

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?