Fans of the movie Ghost will enjoy this tale of love surviving death.

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Death Is Not "The End"

A skeptic gains a new outlook on life after her husband’s premature death from cancer.

“It is difficult to formulate words for what has happened,” Berlin writes in her thoughtful nonfiction debut. “You see, a revelation of this magnitude requires a whole new vocabulary on my part.” The revelation in question is one of many, all happening in the wake of the death of Berlin’s husband, Max, from cancer on December 23, 2003. Berlin, who was once agnostic, lost her husband and soon afterward began to experience strange phenomena, intimations of Max’s continued presence. On New Year’s Day 2004, she imagined she heard his voice repeating the kinds of joshing things he used to say when he was alive. “I don’t pretend to completely understand what happened on January 1st,” she says, “but one thing I do know is, it happened.” At one point, she prays to God to hear his voice again, and the next day, while hunting for batteries for the TV remote, she stumbles across a tape recorder with a recording of Max’s voice still in it. Dozens of similar coincidences—light bulbs burning out, books falling off shelves, appliances suddenly turning on, etc.—convince Berlin that the man she describes as her best friend is still with her. Here, she studies the psychological phenomena of cognitive dissonance and the theoretical possibilities of parallel dimensions, investigations interspersed with touching memories of her life with Max. Readers who’ve lost a loved one will immediately sympathize with much of what Berlin relates. Skeptical readers might view her book less as an account of supernatural survival and more as a journal of grief grasping for something real. Nevertheless, her tale of an interrupted love story still resonates.

Fans of the movie Ghost will enjoy this tale of love surviving death.

Pub Date: June 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4582-1709-7

Page Count: 324

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2015

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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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