Unsentimental for the most part, this portrait of a short, joyous life can be comforting to anyone who has lost a child.



The mother of a three-year-old who died of cancer tells her story, from dancing delight at a pair of red patent-leather shoes to the last breath at home, surrounded by her family.

As Housden remembers it, Hannah was an extraordinary child: bright, exuberant, joyful, unafraid of either life or death. Nor did the doctors who treated her intimidate Hannah, who in the hospital before her first operation insisted that she be allowed to wear the new red shoes to surgery. The doctors submitted. No wimpy Jell-O and mashed potatoes post-op, she commanded; I want pizza. Up came a tray of pizza and chocolate ice cream. Asking for what you want is okay, the author learned from her daughter, and that was only one of the lessons. Another was that telling the truth is the best way to confront fear and pain. Housden tells the truth in this chronicle of Hannah’s last year filled with tears, suffering, and anger, but also with laughter, hope, and love. She organizes the lessons from Hannah’s life into five sections: Truth, Joy, Faith, Compassion, and Wonder. Each is divided into short chapters, most of them anecdotes about this remarkable little girl’s courage and resilience, but also about struggle of her family, including her father and six-year-old brother, to accept Hannah’s illness and death. Housden recounts the hospital stays, the tests, the painful, debilitating treatments, from chemotherapy to bone-marrow transplants. But there is also an exhilarating trip to Disney World, where Hannah met Cinderella and crowed to her brother, “You see, Will . . . I told you she was real.” Religion and spirituality also play a part; the hard question of how God could let this happen to a child is asked, if not answered.

Unsentimental for the most part, this portrait of a short, joyous life can be comforting to anyone who has lost a child.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2002

ISBN: 0-553-80210-0

Page Count: 227

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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