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Philadelphia Daily News writer Kram explores the complicated relationships among family, love, duty and assisted suicide.

During a football game in a small Pennsylvania town in 1973, Buddy Miley, an 18-year-old quarterback with plenty of athletic promise, suffered a devastating accident that  left him a quadriplegic. In 1997, with the help of his younger brother Jimmy, Miley died at the hands of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Kram poignantly tracks the family’s emotional struggles following the accident. The author first met Miley in 1993 after Miley’s mother Rosemarie wrote a protest letter to Sports Illustrated after New York Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd suffered a spinal injury in a game. She decried football’s glamorization of violence and wondered if the NFL should “donate some of its profits to aid research into spinal cord injuries.” Kram’s editor urged him to visit Miley, sensing he might find a local angle to what had become a national debate on spinal-cord injuries. By the time the two men met, Miley had spent nearly 20 years, or “better than seven thousand days,” unable to care for himself. Rosemarie assumed the bulk of responsibility for her son’s care. “With no appreciable help from her husband,” writes Kram, “Rosemarie had soldiered on with the help of her other now-grown children.” Worried about his aging mother and his own deteriorating condition, Miley began contemplating suicide. Kram deftly reveals the intimate details of the story, and he delves into the complex and troubled Miley family dynamics with a skilled reporter’s eye. A heartbreaking story of love and dedication told with remarkable compassion and literary skill.  


Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-65003-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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