A forthcoming and brave testament to our capacity to transcend the grip of trauma.

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Standby for Broadcast...I'm Dying Right in Front of You

A POSTWAR MEMOIR

In her debut memoir, Rhyan, a Navy nurse, writes about contending with the emotional aftermath of war.

In her third deployment as a Navy nurse, Rhyan was sent to Afghanistan to work with a British trauma unit called Bastion Hospital. She landed in the thick of war and witnessed the atrocities soldiers inflict upon one another. The experience exacted a heavy toll, and her colleagues noticed the symptoms of a dangerous downward spiral—drug and alcohol abuse, dark cynicism, and hopelessness. Rhyan’s commanding officer reassigned her to the Willows in Tampa, Florida—a psychiatric facility for military personnel struggling with war-induced trauma. There, she met Riza, her tough Cuban therapist, who was trained to counter Rhyan’s well-honed skills of evasion and misdirection. Rhyan was charged with four obligations to fulfill over the course of six weeks: attend AA meetings, write a timeline of her combat experience to be read aloud in the “War Room,” compose an autobiography, and pen a letter to the person who had hurt her the most deeply. Rhyan finally came to grips with her alcoholic mother’s cruelty and narcissism and the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of an older cousin. She also wrestled with her sexual identity—it wasn’t easy being a lesbian within an institution historically hostile to the LGBT community. But Rhyan remained in the military because of the lure of financial stability—she was the primary caretaker of both her young child and feckless mother. The author’s remembrance brims with both heartache and insight, the latter often painfully excavated from the former. Rhyan’s predicament is one not often represented in popular discourse—the PTSD suffered by those who see the effects of combat without partaking in combat itself. The writing style can be distracting—long sentences densely packed with a confetti of descriptors and a relentlessly caustic humor reminiscent of William Giraldi’s Busy Monsters. The story itself, though, and the bracingly candid manner of its conveyance are deeply affecting.

A forthcoming and brave testament to our capacity to transcend the grip of trauma.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 370

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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