The compelling, if at times aggravating, tale of Chisholm's journey from the land of the dead to the thin air of high peaks, told with the help of Bruce, an editor for Self-Help Psychology magazine. In her mid-30s, Chisholm was a wreck: hooked on booze and dope, unable to control her eating, tempering her moods with Nyquil and Sinutabs, fancying she was controlling her weight with a massive daily intake of laxatives, unable to go to work or even get out of bed. Thanks to fate, destiny—call it what you will—she found her way to a rehab group that got the recuperative ball rolling, and coincidentally, in the mid-1980s, Chisholm discovered mountain climbing. She wanted to climb the seven summits, the highest mountains on each continent, and her quest became a bit of an obsession: She wondered if she simply switched one addiction for another. But her motives feel purer than that. She was trying to claw her way out of a deadly slough, and she realized she had to be physically and spiritually up to the challenge. Spiritually, Chisholm discovered God, and readers may feel they have been foisted into a confessional role. Her mantra is ``God's love, God's strength, God's will, I can.'' Inner voices dog her: The pessimist Martha and the perfectionist Ghost in White taunt her unmercifully. Physically, the adventurer's quests were daunting: Kilimanjaro, Denali, Cerro Aconcagua, Everest, mountains that demand resources no non-mountaineer could imagine. Chisholm's excitement at being on the roofs of the world, or at least sitting under the eaves at base camp—highly descriptive, with nuggets of climbing wisdom—is palpable. When Everest eludes Chisholm, and she takes it in stride, readers may sense that she has covered her most impressive terrain. (photos, not seen) (First printing of 60,000; author tour)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-380-97359-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

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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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