An honest and moving account of love, loss, and the discovery of faith.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A memoir about navigating one’s faith and cultural identity within the parameters of a marriage.

Grunberg Wakabayashi’s book recounts her experiences in an interfaith and interracial relationship. She characterizes herself as the product of “five generations of…Jewish women who took off their corsets to do their bit in shaping the European Enlightenment”; however, one consequence of her family’s legacy of independently minded women, she says, was that many of them ended up trading “religion for education and careers.” The author herself became a successful journalist for various news outlets who led a life of adventure and exploration. In 1987,she left New York City to pursue a journalism career in Tokyo, where she navigated a foreign culture as a “micro-minority.” At the White Crane Eastern medicine clinic, she met Ichiro Wakabayashi, a traditional therapist and Buddhist practitioner. They developed a close rapport that allowed for frank discussions about religion and culture and eventually led to them to marry. Although both of their families accepted their union, the author’s mother urged her to “think carefully about making [a] life with someone from such a different background.” Over time, and with her husband’s encouragement, Grunberg Wakabayashi began to feel the pull of Judaism. This exploration, however, shifted the foundation of her marriage as she struggled to reconcile her current life as a wife and mother with the “Orthodox rulebook of life.” Over the course of this affecting and earnest memoir, the author details her emotional journey to her decision that her marriage and religion couldn’t coexist; however, she also shows that she and her husband’s children could serve as a bridge between two very different faiths and cultures. Grunberg Wakabayashi effectively illustrates this in her description of her daughter’s traditional Japanese “Coming-of-Age ceremony, the Seijinshiki,” which took place in Jerusalem: “Jewish and Japanese wisdom has brought us all closer to God and the temples of our ancestors.” Overall, this is a heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting memoir about spirituality and how sometimes a family must fracture in order to truly thrive.

An honest and moving account of love, loss, and the discovery of faith.

Pub Date: April 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-578-84404-6

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Goshen Books

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2021


Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


Dillard’s story reflects maturity and understanding from someone who was forced to mature and understand too much too soon.

A measured memoir from a daughter of the famous family.

Growing up in the Institute of Basic Life Principles community, which she came to realize was “a cult, thriving on a culture of fear and manipulation,” Duggar and her 18 siblings were raised never to question parental authority. As the author recalls, she felt no need to, describing the loving home of her girlhood. When a documentary crew approached her father, Jim Bob, and proposed first a series of TV specials that would be called 17 Kids and Counting (later 18 and 19 Kids and Counting), he agreed, telling his family that this was a chance to share their conservative Christian faith. It was also a chance to become wealthy, but Jill, who was dedicated to following the rules, didn’t question where the money went. A key to her falling out with her family was orchestrated by Jim Bob, who introduced her to missionary Derick Dillard. Their wedding was one of the most-watched episodes of the series. Even though she was an adult, Jill’s parents and the show continued to expect more of the young couple. When they attempted to say no to filming some aspects of their lives, Jill discovered that a sheet of paper her father asked her to sign the day before her wedding was part of a contract in which she had unwittingly agreed to full cooperation. Writing about her sex offender brother, Josh, and the legal action she and Derick had to take to get their questions answered, Jill describes how she was finally able—through therapy, prayer, and the establishment of boundaries—to reconcile love for her parents with Jim Bob’s deception and reframe her faith outside the IBLP.

Dillard’s story reflects maturity and understanding from someone who was forced to mature and understand too much too soon.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781668024447

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: today

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

Close Quickview