A painful but beautifully conveyed tale of addiction and a mother’s commitment to a floundering child.




A writer recounts the anguishing trial of her daughter’s heroin abuse. 

Debut author Alpert took Crystal in when she was 16 years old—she was given up at birth, and was struggling to get along with her adoptive parents. She was a troubled teenager, but prospered in a new environment—she finished high school at the top of her class and graduated from college. But she began using heroin—a fact revealed to the author by Crystal’s boyfriend, Jim—a practice that quickly snowballed into an ungovernable addiction. Alpert and Jim were able to coax Crystal into a detox program and then rehab. She seemed to be on the path to recovery and was infused with a sense of purpose from motherhood—she gave birth to a daughter, Sage. But Crystal’s newfound stability proved fleeting, and she spiraled again into self-destructive addiction and finally homelessness. Alpert movingly chronicles her fraught relationship with Crystal, including the author’s repeated attempts to get her clean and, in the process, to protect Sage. Alpert candidly discusses the hard decisions she had to make as a mother—at one point, she sent, as a temporary measure in advance of another shot at detox, money to Jim to purchase small amounts of heroin for Crystal. Later, she would deny Crystal bail money when she was arrested, hoping her incarceration was an opportunity to start anew. After not seeing her daughter for years, the author then discovered she was on CNN, the subject of a story profiling heroin addicts—Crystal was both homeless and pregnant. Alpert’s account is filled with candidly conveyed heartache, an especially poignant tale because, despite her challenges, she never regretted the decision to introduce Crystal into her life. The author stirringly details her own struggle to come to grips with a persistent feeling of helplessness: “Believing I had control of any kind was giving myself way too much credit. It was always Crystal’s decision. I had not put the needle in her arm, and I would not be the one to take it out.”

A painful but beautifully conveyed tale of addiction and a mother’s commitment to a floundering child.

Pub Date: April 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948181-32-7

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Hybrid Global Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 9, 2019

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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