An important account of hereditary cancer, but it’s one that could have been much more focused.

My Father's Daughter

A story of resilience and resourcefulness while battling cancer and other adversities.

Bruzzone’s debut memoir begins with her father’s death in 1997. He’d battled multiple cancers over seven years, and among his final words was a warning: “They think it is hereditary.” This made sense to the author, as almost all the family members on her father’s side had suffered from cancer in midlife. “It was a puzzle,” Bruzzone says. She and her husband went on to found Lynch Syndrome International in 2009, and the condition it’s named after is now better known: it’s a predisposition to cancer, especially colorectal cancer, caused by genetic mutations that run in families. In this book, she sets out to tell “the story of my family and our genetic journey with Lynch syndrome cancers.” She succeeds, but her book takes a rather long, circuitous route. In the first 18 chapters, she relates many details of her childhood, including interstate moves, her mother’s struggle with drug addiction, and her own estrangement from both her parents. Cancer, including breast cancer on her mother’s side, is a common theme throughout but not the central focus. Bruzzone later delves into the history of hereditary cancers, going back to the time of Napoleon, and also touches on the history of eugenics while also asking why familial links have long been ignored. She concludes with a topical discussion of genetic testing, both in general and for her own children. At one point, she spends 10 chapters recounting details of her career as a corrections officer, parole agent, and private investigator. This provides gripping insights into many social issues, including the role of women in high-risk jobs. However, it does seem tangential. The key link throughout is Bruzzone’s courage and doggedness while dealing with medical clerks and physicians who failed to consider her family history or worsening symptoms of cancer. “I had never felt more helpless,” she writes about waiting for tests and appointments. She eventually finds competent doctors, but she ably portrays the stress—and sometimes harm—that the medical system caused her.

An important account of hereditary cancer, but it’s one that could have been much more focused.

Pub Date: March 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4917-9235-3

Page Count: 386

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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