A harrowing story of an international adoption gone wrong.
In a debut memoir first published in Spanish in 2015, Franco soberly recounts her failed adoption experience. Thirty-six and single, she went through an agency to adopt from a Russian orphanage. She traveled from Barcelona to Yekaterinburg and met Alba, who, at 2 years old, appeared small for her age but intelligent. The two got along well, and Alba called her “Mama.” But Alba’s behavior was worrying. She trashed their hotel room, and back in Spain, she slapped a baby in a stroller. Soon, Alba was expelled from school due to her aggressiveness. In the meantime, Franco fell in love with Pablo, and they married. She bore three children, and the family moved frequently, including to Chicago and Australia, for Pablo’s work. Complaints accumulated as Alba disrupted classes and damaged property. “In society’s eyes, seen from the outside, I was simply a bad mother who couldn’t control her daughter,” the author reports. Even more distressingly, Alba started hurting her siblings, wrapping sheets around the babies’ necks and throwing her 2-year-old brother into a swimming pool. “Every day she scared me more,” Franco writes, and “my efforts to change her behavior were futile.” Through it all, she kept Pablo, who was often away on business, in the dark. There were innumerable close shaves with the children’s safety, yet a combination of incredulity and guilt kept Franco silent. Ultimately, with her parents’ help, she had Alba admitted to a children’s institution in Barcelona. This disturbing material is relayed in a calm, measured tone that occasionally falls flat because of a dearth of discrete scenes and dialogue. In essence, the book is an extended self-justification, so avoiding melodrama was important. Even this short chronicle becomes repetitive when recounting patterns of behavior, though. Thankfully, despite talk of psychopathy, Franco doesn’t take the low road of portraying Alba as a monster but keeps in mind the girl’s rough start in life. Franco convinces the reader she showed nearly infinite patience—and did all she could for Alba.
A mother’s unadorned account of raising a troubled child.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)