Empathetic, probing, and often emotionally moving narratives on appreciating the power and the pain of aging.

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ELDERHOOD

REDEFINING AGING, TRANSFORMING MEDICINE, REIMAGINING LIFE

A noted geriatrician illuminates the facets of old age through a compassionate, philosophical, and humanistic lens.

For Aronson (Medicine/Univ. of California, San Francisco; A History of the Present Illness: Stories, 2013), what began as a relatively rudimentary “old age book” soon morphed into an examination of aging and the human condition encompassing poignant stories and the viewpoints of medical experts, writers, historians, and scientists. Most of the author’s patients are 60 and above, and she approaches their care not just from a wellness angle, but from humanitarian, social, and personal ones as well. She shares harrowing case studies of elderly people who have been misdiagnosed or mistreated by medical professionals. She also examines the ways an ageist modern society and the medical community and its depersonalized treatment protocols continue to fail elderly patients. Aronson rightly believes that these failures must be brought forward as learning tools for the global medical community. The author modestly inserts herself into the narrative, frequently sharing stories about her youth and her medical rotations as well as her father’s struggles with dementia and her mother’s battle with cancer. She also addresses worrisome (and potentially disabling) physical changes and medical issues that appeared much earlier in her life than she’d expected. The narrative is comprehensive, sprawling, and often depressing and somber, featuring sad histories of elder maltreatment and neglect as well as clear examples of ageist ignorance. Nonetheless, the book is beautifully written and offers countless moments of keen insight. Some observances are even startling, as when Aronson pauses to reflect on the societal obsession with anti-aging and accidentally observes the disturbing hairline of a woman with a facelift, her “surgical residua pulling one way and gravity another.” By collectively observing age from diverse perspectives, the author hopes readers (and caregivers) will discover a new appreciation for growing old that is positive, fruitful, and rewarding.

Empathetic, probing, and often emotionally moving narratives on appreciating the power and the pain of aging.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62040-546-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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