A flawed but uplifting story of courage, love and compassion.

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UNMEASURED STRENGTH

MY STORY OF SURVIVAL AND TRANSFORMATION

A survivor of 9/11 recounts the ultra–harrowing tale of how she returned from the brink of death after suffering second- and third-degree burns over more than 80 percent of her body.

The first quarter of the book is a banal recitation of the privileged though unremarkable life that Manning led prior to the day in 2001 that changed her and her country. But when the author begins to describe the horrific moments following her encounter with the fire in the lobby of One World Trade Center that “embraced my body tighter that any suitor,” her memoir takes flight. With honesty and simplicity, Manning details her miraculous escapes first from the crippled North Tower; then from limb amputation; and then from death, which stalked her relentlessly for three months. “I had about 18% chance of surviving, assuming I suffered no dire infections or other complications,” she writes. Her once-comfortable life had suddenly become a living hell. After dozens of surgeries, skin grafts and excruciatingly painful therapies, Manning began the difficult process of relearning “the simplest of activities, basic functions I had always taken for granted such as speaking, holding a fork to feed myself, sitting up, getting in and out of bed and walking.” Ten years later, her life has returned to “normality” thanks to the unstinting love shown her by family, friends and strangers.  And the hand she thought she would lose has since become a personal “talisman, not of suffering, but of something divine: the power to survive and to heal.”

A flawed but uplifting story of courage, love and compassion.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9463-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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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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