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STORIES ABOUT THE 12 HARDEST THINGS I’M LEARNING TO SAY

Moving and deeply personal, Corrigan’s portraits of love and loss urge readers to speak more carefully and hold on tighter...

Ruminations about the power of 12 of life’s essential phrases and the difficulty in learning to say them out loud.

Corrigan (Glitter and Glue, 2013, etc.) may be a bestselling author, but she doesn’t always know the right thing to say, especially when it comes to the ones she loves most. In the collection’s titular essay, the author struggles to communicate with her teenage daughter until a childhood friend encourages her to do less talking and more listening, a strategy she implements when her father is diagnosed with terminal cancer. In “I Know,” Corrigan’s experience volunteering at a camp for children who have lost someone to cancer reminds her how comforting physical company—rather than apology—can be during times of tragedy and loss. “I Was Wrong,” the funniest entry in the collection, uses a dog, an unflushed toilet, and a parental meltdown to highlight the power and near-impossible difficulty of admitting personal fault. In the deeply affecting entry “Onward,” moving on from tragedy takes on a new weight. With heartfelt humor and penetrating insight, Corrigan uses the pain, anguish, failure, and occasional successes in her life to explore the vital connection between the words we say and the relationships we develop, both with the people around us and ourselves. Punctuated with her signature warmth and unflinching honesty, her introspective musings gush with empathy for every partner, parent, child, or friend who has said the wrong thing at the wrong time. At times laugh-out-loud funny but overwhelmingly bittersweet, this brief book spans time and experience to drive home a seemingly simple but significant message: finding the right words is a lifelong journey. Other phrases include “I Love You” and “No Words at All.”

Moving and deeply personal, Corrigan’s portraits of love and loss urge readers to speak more carefully and hold on tighter to the people they love.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-58837-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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