Displaying the same resilience that made her memoir of growing up in war-torn Vietnam (When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, 1989) so stunning, Hayslip now writes with equal frankness—and with the help of her eldest son—about her new life in the US. Arriving in California from Vietnam with her two sons and an elderly American husband, Ed, Hayslip found America to be a bewildering place: a world where the ``skills needed to survive in the jungles and corrupt back alleys no longer counted''; a world ``without ancestors, without cause and effect''; a world that for many Vietnamese was ``the land of the enemy.'' How Hayslip coped with these inevitable cultural clashes is the overriding theme here. The author's deep Buddhist faith proved a great source of strength and the one constant solace as Hayslip, despite her unwavering energy, courage, and optimism, proved often dangerously naive in her love and business affairs. While married to Ed, she had an affair with Dan, an American officer; when Ed died, she married Dennis, a divorcÇ with whom she had a third son, only to discover that Dennis was unstable and abusive. Dennis's accidental death freed Hayslip, but the pattern repeated itself—including through a disastrous reunion with Dan—and, although Hayslip prospered, using hard work as well as money from her husbands' insurance policies to buy houses, stocks, and a restaurant, she admits to being a sucker for con men. On her spiritual advisers' advice, she now devotes herself to healing the wounds of war, partly through her East Meets West Foundation. Today, in her 40s, Hayslip rejoices that she has fulfilled ``one dream.'' Inevitably less harrowing than Hayslip's first book, but no less compelling as the author offers a refreshingly honest look at both herself and Americans as she seeks reconciliation between her old and new homes.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-42111-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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