A profound meditation on the overcoming of past trauma.

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Lords Hill

A PLACE ONLY GOD COULD SAVE ME FROM: BASED ON A TRUE STORY

In this unflinchingly candid memoir, debut author Miller recounts a childhood of abuse.

When Miller was only a young child, her mother died in an automobile accident while driving drunk. Her father had divorced her mother and already moved on to another marriage, and he wanted nothing to do with Miller and her three siblings. He also withheld child support. The author moved in her with grandmother, Nana, and suffered under her often unkind authority. Her uncle Henry was an unabashed alcoholic who tyrannized the house with his mercurial bouts of insanity and anger. In one particularly upsetting scene, Henry stabs a pony to death in front of her. Miller enjoyed some respite from Henry’s madness during his frequent stays in a mental hospital. Aunt Charlotte, her mother’s oldest sister, often assumed the role of a mother figure, but she was also an incorrigible alcoholic with a predilection for brazen sexual exhibitionism and promiscuity. Miller was, by her own account, a neurotic and emotional child mercilessly targeted by bullies. Such relentless abuse eventually drove her to alcohol as a path to numbed oblivion, and she nearly died in a car accident driving while drunk, a sad echo of her mother’s death. Just as predictably, she sought comfort in the arms of abusive men, looking for self-destructive co-dependence more than authentic love. She became pregnant at 16 and reluctantly aborted the baby under pressure, a decision she always regretted. After leaving an alcoholic husband, she finally found a path to recovery and redemption through a newly discovered faith in God: “Only as my faith has grown into a deeper and more dependent relationship on God and His Son, Jesus, has my life had the most balance and peace.” This is a grim remembrance told—amazingly—without demonizing the tormentors; in fact, Miller lovingly depicts all, even the most abusive, with a forgiving sympathy. For example, she thoughtfully considers the challenges Nana must have faced when suddenly saddled—well into her 60s—with three children to raise. The theme of this inspiring autobiography—beautifully rendered by the author—seems to be the deeply therapeutic value of granting clemency to one’s abusers.

A profound meditation on the overcoming of past trauma. 

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4908-5281-2

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 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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