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Written in a breezy style with humor and heart, the book reminds us how rewarding it can be to see a parent outside the...

Corrigan’s third book (Lift, 2010, etc.) deals with the layered relationship between mother and daughter.

The glitter refers to her father, George, her cheerleader, “almost impossible to frustrate or disappoint.” The glue, her mother, Mary, with whom she had an “adversarial but functional” relationship, held things together with her pragmatism. After college, when Corrigan decided to go on a multicountry odyssey, her father responded, “Fantastic!” Her mother: “You should be using that money to get established, get your own health insurance, not traipse all over creation.” Ironically, it was Corrigan’s travels that led her to appreciate her mother’s point of view. The author ran out of money in Australia and took a job as a live-in nanny for a widower. John Tanner hired her to look after his two children while he traveled for his job as an airline steward, but it was a dysfunctional household: There was John, who seldom smiled; Martin, the open, affectionate 5-year-old; Milly, the resentful 7-year-old; Pop, their 84-year-old grandfather; and Evan, John’s grown stepson. “If this family were a poker hand, you’d fold,” writes Corrigan. “Without that middle card, it’s an inside straight, and those almost never work out.” Aside from a friendly flirtation with Evan, the action is internal as Corrigan called upon her mother’s directives to help her provide some stability for the family. The most affecting part of the narrative is her struggle to connect emotionally with Milly and her realization that “maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn’t because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much.”

Written in a breezy style with humor and heart, the book reminds us how rewarding it can be to see a parent outside the context of our own needs. It's that illumination that allows Corrigan to turn what starts as a complaint about her mother into a big thank you.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-345-53283-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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