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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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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