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Punctuated by insight and inspiration but a bit too self-indulgent for readers who are not mothers or mothers-to-be.

A writer shows how the birth of a daughter changed her life and her relationship with her own long-dead mother.

June, a former staff writer at New York magazine’s The Cut who frequently writes on issues related to parenting, tells the story of her own experiences as a parent, beginning with her decision to have a baby at age 35. She shares the details of the pregnancy, the Caesarian delivery (“my birth experience, such as it was, was about the best thing I could have imagined”), the emotional roller coaster of early parenthood, and the loneliness—and boredom—that often comes with new motherhood. She is clearly fascinated by her life as a mother and with her developing daughter, Zelda, and she is an especially aware mother. Not all readers will share her in-depth fascination, but what makes this account different from “let-me-tell-you-what-an-amazing-child-I-have” baby books are the revelations about June’s mother, whose alcoholism became an early defining factor in her daughter’s life. Her mother’s disease became the author’s secret and introduced her to a life of secrets and lies. Her look back at her years with an alcoholic mother, which makes up a significant portion of the book, is straightforward and has the ring of accuracy. Becoming a mother changed June’s life in more ways than first-time motherhood inevitably does. It opened her up to a social world she had not known, and it allowed her to form family connections she had not had before. New mothers, especially stay-at-home ones, may find that a private life made public is just the thing to brighten and lighten their own suddenly restricted lives. Less-engaged readers may see the memoir as a trip not worth taking.

Punctuated by insight and inspiration but a bit too self-indulgent for readers who are not mothers or mothers-to-be.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-14-313091-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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...

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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