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Tarney’s son Harry was just 2 years old when he told her, “inside my head I’m a girl.” Uncertain what to make of her son’s...

The mother of a gender creative child reflects on the unique path of his development from childhood to adulthood.

Tarney’s son Harry was just 2 years old when he told her, “inside my head I’m a girl.” Uncertain what to make of her son’s statement or how to interpret his fondness for dolls and dressing up in girl’s clothes, the author looked for answers in the work of child experts like Benjamin Spock. However, no one could help her figure out how to keep her son psychologically healthy on one hand and free from peer teasing on the other. Terrified that she would become like her own controlling mother, Tarney tried to find or create environments that offered Harry a maximum of personal expressive freedom. Rather than send him to a uniform-mandatory school, she chose one where children could wear what they liked. At home, she gave Harry full freedom to dress up in wigs, skirts, dresses, and high-heeled shoes and indulge in his penchant for performance. As he approached his middle school years, Harry began to face the inevitable hurtful comments of classmates who called him “needle dick” and “faggot.” But he learned to cope with homophobia, first by excelling academically and then by learning how to channel his dramatic abilities and love of the outrageous in ways that eventually made him one of the most popular people in high school. Harry’s own development into a confident, self-loving person inspired Tarney to follow her own dreams away from Milwaukee to live the life of a free spirit in Brooklyn. Not only does the book chronicle an especially memorable mother-son relationship. It also suggests that the best parenting is the kind that does not forcibly mold a child into what he/she “should” be but lovingly allows him/her the freedom to follow his/her own special path.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-299-31060-8

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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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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