Fascinating, well-told, candid, and tender.




A rare glimpse into the life of one of America’s most revered social activists.

Hennessy (Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance, 2016), granddaughter of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), utilizes family correspondence, Day’s journals, and her own memories to construct a detailed, riveting biography. In many ways, this book is a dual biography, not only of the author’s grandmother, but also her mother, Tamar, who was Day’s only daughter. Indeed, the complex mother-daughter relationship between Dorothy and Tamar makes up a large portion of the book. Hennessy dives right into Day’s unusual and chaotic life. Even as a very young woman, Day was on her own, working varied jobs, coming into and out of abject poverty, experiencing heady love affairs, and always writing. With time, she funneled her energies into three pursuits: her newfound Catholic faith, her daughter, and her great creation, the Catholic Worker, which was primarily a newspaper but which was also a way of life for many activists. Readers will be intrigued to learn of Day’s intimate life story from the 1920s through the 1940s, especially, with the rise of the Catholic Worker as a parallel tale. Somewhat estranged from her mother during the 1950s, Tamar would return to New York and to the Worker, eventually taking it on as her own life’s work. Hennessy presents her grandmother in full. Though her respect for her is great, she also recognizes the challenges she faced and the many facets of her personality and life that prove she, like anyone else, was far from perfect. Perhaps no theme so dominates the book as much as love: the love between mother and daughter, Day’s often unrequited love for Forster Batterham, Tamar’s father, and Day’s love for helping the poor, which drove her life’s work and was inspired by her love for God.

Fascinating, well-told, candid, and tender.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3396-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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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...


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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