A simple, inspiring memoir.

SWIMMING IN THE SINK

AN EPISODE OF THE HEART

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 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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