Wrenchingly courageous.

In this powerfully affecting memoir, ex–Christian Scientist Greenhouse tells the story of how her parents’ fervent adherence to their religion tore the family irrevocably apart.

From the outside, the author’s comfortable Minnesota childhood seemed perfect. She and her two siblings grew up going to the best schools surrounded by a host of loving relatives. Unlike the other members of their extended family, however, the Ewing clan was different. They were Christian Scientists who did not believe in taking medicines of any kind, including aspirin. From an early age, the author was all too aware “of the difference between the way my family does things and the way other people do [them],” and of the irony that her mother was a doctor’s daughter. Over time, her parents’ beliefs deepened. Soon after the author’s 13th birthday, the family moved to London so her father could become a Christian Science practitioner (or faith healer) and her mother a Christian Science nurse. Four years later, they returned to New Jersey where they found a home near a Christian Science care facility. Greenhouse became more openly rebellious, expressing her defiance by buying a pair of much-needed eyeglasses. When her mother became sick with a mysterious illness—a “little problem” later identified as cancer—underlying family tensions came to an explosive head. Both parents vehemently denied her mother’s rapidly deteriorating condition. For nine horrific months, the author stood helplessly by as her mother fought her disease armed only with the belief that all illness was error. With its meditations on the many whys of this event, the narrative reads like a personal exorcism, but Greenhouse’s skill in rendering family relationships under the intersecting stresses of illness and conflicting beliefs make the book worthwhile—but difficult—reading.

Wrenchingly courageous.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72092-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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