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An exploration of the guilt and anger associated with breaking out of a box fashioned by years of abuse.

In her memoir, Mayfield (Acting A to Z, 2007, etc.) describes the hurt, longing and anger she experienced while excavating years of emotional abuse endured at the hands of her parents. The poem, written by Mayfield, that opens the book encapsulates the author’s struggle best: “It’s been many years now / That I’ve been in the box of daughter— / I’ve worked a lot on the box, / Making holes to see out / … I’ve pushed and pushed at the walls for years and years, / Trying to make the box fit me better, / But it’s a very strong box.” For Mayfield, the strength of the guilt and responsibility associated with being a daughter trapped her, even following the death of her parents. Her father, the son of a minister, was extremely lonely, living a solitary life disconnected from his wife and relying heavily on Mayfield. Her mother, a model citizen who was always helping others, was insatiable in her need for attention and enacted a reign of terror in the household. Mayfield’s discovery of her true self through daunting psychological work is a long process that she explains by describing the methods of therapy, thought, writing and reading that led her to understand the impetus of many of her issues and to improve her outlook and health. The flashbacks in the book, though clumsily called attention to with the use of present tense, are heartbreaking. One specific flashback recounts her mother’s cruel use of power to frighten Mayfield and her friends during her seventh birthday party. Mayfield’s memoir is a testament to the merit of psychological healing through the understanding and expression of feelings and allowing the past trauma of the psyche to come to the forefront to be acknowledged. Full of stark realities of abuse but also the hopefulness of healing, Mayfield’s memoir provides helpful insight to those facing similar struggles.


Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1936447435

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Maine Authors Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2011


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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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