A humorless journey of self-discovery marked by annoying pretensions and an of superiority.

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A SABBATH LIFE

ONE WOMAN’S SEARCH FOR WHOLENESS

A middle-aged yuppie’s overwritten account of her discovery that there’s more to life than a prestigious job.

As Hirsch (A Home in the Heart of the City, 1998) approached her 40s, she began to feel dissatisfied with her achievement-driven lifestyle. The sudden death of her younger brother sharpened her desire for a change, and her experience of pregnancy and the birth of her first child provided further impetus. Her search for a “Sabbath life” (meaning one that is “varied, fruitful, and, at day’s end rich in wisdom and peace”) led her to the library, to nature and gardening, to making good soup, trying various handicrafts, exploring her community, and connecting with other women. An admirer of Virginia Woolf, she set out to create a room of her own, but she realized that there was something stagy about her vision of it as a home to seedpods, birds’ nests, paintbrushes and good, thick paper, a basket for yarns, and a space on the floor for the baby to sit and play in the sunlight. She found analogies with life in the seasons of her backyard garden, in the structure of an apple she was slicing, and in a fruit compote she was aging and blending. There’s a good deal of high-flown rhetoric here—about finding one’s “self,” about harmony, spiritual growth, balance, wholeness, and the wisdom of the body—as she imagines herself and other (usually quite politically correct and aesthetically aware) women creating a “new reality.”

A humorless journey of self-discovery marked by annoying pretensions and an of superiority.

Pub Date: April 18, 2001

ISBN: 0-86547-598-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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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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