A beautifully written and emotionally sound look back—and forward—from a woman who has broken the glass ceiling and lived to...



This memoir includes anecdotes, self-analysis, and original poetry from a Vermont politician and author as she embarks on her eighth decade.

Kunin (Living a Political Life, 1994, etc.) broke the rules in a major way more than two decades ago as Vermont’s first elected female governor. She also served as deputy secretary of education during President Bill Clinton’s administration and spent three years as the United States ambassador to Switzerland. But not even this dynamo can reverse the aging process. In her fourth book, the author looks ahead to age 84 and beyond. She reflects on the late-in-life romance with her second husband, John, whom she met in her 70s and his 80s. (After they agreed to get married, John told Kunin, “I can give you ten years,” and she mused, “That seemed like forever.”) When John was stricken with health problems and subsequently confined to a wheelchair, he and Kunin made the decision to sell their condo and move to a cottage in a retirement village. As the author cared for her ailing husband and packed up the remains of their old life, she thought about her career and relationships, not just with John, but also with her brother, Edgar, who was a thriving politician and writer before he died. Kunin intersperses ruminations and stories of daily life with John with original poetry contemplating the veins in her hands and the arrival of autumn. A veteran of working in government as well as writing books, the author chooses her words carefully, using prose that is short and to the point but no less powerful. Her poetry is just as lovely, particularly “Can There Be More to Say,” a look at a morning marital conversation. Kunin’s take on “coming of age” as an elderly woman rather than an adolescent is unique and should appeal to readers young and old. Her tales of her mother, a Jewish immigrant who brought her two children to America after her husband’s suicide, are both poignant and indicative of the success stories Kunin and Edgar would become in adulthood.

A beautifully written and emotionally sound look back—and forward—from a woman who has broken the glass ceiling and lived to write about it.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9994995-9-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Green Writers Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.



In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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