A powerful, emotionally resonant memoir of a young boy’s bout with cancer as experienced by his devoted mother.

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IF

A MOTHER'S MEMOIR

A mother’s perspective on her son’s harrowing bout with lymphoma.

As French author Marzouk relates in her English-language debut, what started out as a sore throat escalated into something far more dangerous for 10-year-old Solal. When his tonsil had black streaks on it, his parents knew they needed professional help. Of course, they were blindsided by the diagnosis of cancer. The author and her husband were suddenly thrust into a different world as Solal moved into the Curie Institute in Paris for treatments. Because they had two other children who needed them, they also had to maintain some semblance of normalcy throughout the long months ahead. Marzouk delivers this tender memoir via two points of view: first person, which gives readers her immediate, often visceral reactions to such things as the doctor’s first analysis of Solal’s prognosis and Solal’s hair beginning to fall out due to chemotherapy; and third person, which gives a wider perspective of events and includes Solal’s reactions. The author skillfully deploys telling details, and her descriptions of what Solal endured and how she felt puts readers into the same space as the family, creating a narrative that is sometimes overwhelmingly intense. The author’s determination and sheer willpower to endure this ordeal shine through on nearly every page. For those who have been touched by cancer, the book will bring back memories of treatments and sickness, of fears and sadness, and of joy and hope. “You’re here,” she writes in conclusion. “I’m not making it up. You really are here. Freed from the Institute and its machines with their gloomy notes. And so I sing in order to forget, to forget the risks you still run, forget my fear, forget uncertainty. Yes, Solal, we must sing, we must keep singing obstinately. But even so, what if? What if? In spite of everything, there’s always an if.”

A powerful, emotionally resonant memoir of a young boy’s bout with cancer as experienced by his devoted mother.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59051-097-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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