An inspirational story of moving past emotional trauma and realizing that “life is solely what you make of it.”

BLEMISHED BUT NOT BROKEN

A debut memoir details the many psychic wounds the author incurred in her relationships.

Adams (a pen name) decided to embark on this book when, unhappy in her work, she met an astrologist who told her she had not yet fulfilled her life’s purpose and that writing her story would be a therapeutic exercise and also help others. She begins with a sudden traumatic memory of being raped by an older neighbor boy when she was about 5 years old. A sense of being “marked emotionally” followed her throughout her childhood, especially with her mentally ill mother in and out of psychiatric wards. The aloofness and negativity she experienced from her mother drove her to seek affirmation elsewhere, especially from Mr. Santini, her eighth-grade science teacher, with whom she had a yearslong emotional affair. Although Mr. Santini called her his “number one” and repeatedly stated that he’d like to do “you-know-what” with her, their relationship never became physical. Nevertheless, Adams feels “robbed of my youthful years.…I placed myself in a fantasy world and didn’t enjoy the normal activities of someone my own age.” She bravely documents how a “snowball of poor choices” led to multiple broken romantic relationships in her 20s, including one with a dentist who impregnated her, and expresses frustration with herself at how long she often took to break free of unhealthy bonds. Crucially, although she tells meticulous stories of how various people—such as her brother’s ex-wife, Terri —left her emotionally scarred, Adams never comes across here as bitter or a victim. Instead, she speaks of the opportunities these people gave her to face up to her anger and develop newfound self-respect. Looking back from her current situation of being happily married and reconnected with her family, she can see that although “I had dysfunction in my genes and a lot of baggage that I carried with me,” she has remained a caring person with no regrets. Ultimately, this earnest and stirring account offers an overall sense of progression and healing.

An inspirational story of moving past emotional trauma and realizing that “life is solely what you make of it.” 

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-7406-4

Page Count: 212

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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