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SWIMMING IN THE SINK

AN EPISODE OF THE HEART

A simple, inspiring memoir.

An open water swimmer’s memoir about how she survived a traumatic year marred by heartbreak and a life-threatening health crisis.

Born covered in hair that made her look like “a little seal” and possessed of the remarkable ability to acclimatize easily to cold, often freezing water, Cox (Open Water Swimming Manual: An Expert's Survival Guide for Triathletes and Open Water Swimmers, 2013, etc.) seemed destined for the aquatic pursuits that defined her later life. As an adult, she successfully swam across the Bering Strait, the Beagle Channel, Disko Bay, and Lake Titicaca and became an unofficial goodwill ambassador between nations. Her metabolism was so efficient that she became the subject of numerous medical studies. But in 2012, Cox’s amazing body began to falter. First, her feet began to swell. Then she developed an irregular heartbeat and severe cramping in both hands. At first, she thought her symptoms were stress-induced. Her mother had passed away a year earlier, and for 25 years, she had cared for her parents. Doctors told her that her prognosis for recovery was poor and that if her body did not respond to medication, she would need a heart transplant. Unwilling to “have my heart cut out of my body,” Cox examined everything in her life, from her diet and personal habits to her friendships. She dispensed with all negative thinking and became more aware of “the things that were stressing me” so that she could handle them more appropriately. A few months later, her heart rate had become more normal and she was reacclimatizing her body to the cold by moving her hands and arms in a kitchen sink filled with ice water. Six months later, she had completely recovered. Not only was she able to swim again, but she also loved it more deeply than ever before. Told in straightforward language straight from the heart, Cox’s story is a celebration of mindful living and a reminder that few things are ever permanently out of reach.

A simple, inspiring memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-94762-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • National Book Award Winner


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

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

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