A gently resonant little book as pleasant as a walk in the park.

ALL IN GOOD TIME

In this tender, inviting short book written by a reading specialist, a loving grandmother has wise words for her young grandson when he wishes he were older.

On a walk in the park with his grandmother, an unnamed young boy sees older kids playing basketball and, wanting to join in, he says, “I wish I was big right now.” His grandmother asks him not to grow up too fast, “[b]ecause I would miss the little you.” When he’s not swayed, her response sparks a gentle exchange between the two as they continue their walk through the park. The grandmother points out baby ducklings in a pond, saying they need time to learn to swim and fly. She reminds her grandson of the things that his pet dog was like during his “good growing times” that turned a puppy into “a strong and loving dog.” A toddling little girl they meet with her dad needs time for her legs to grow stronger, something that “will happen as surely as summer follows spring.” The message is hardly unique to the genre, but Biery (Words Aren’t Fair, 2009) imparts this wisdom with warmth and the deft rhythm of simple but expressive vocabulary, giving the book (inspired by her own grandson) lift and life. The dog and boy race “like the wind, the boy laughing as the dog dove into a pile of leaves and chased a squirrel out the other side.” While a little girl pats the dog, “a smile bloomed on her face.” A mother duck “nudged the baby ducks,” and they “slipped into the pond, paddling the water with their feet.” The book’s watercolor and pencil illustrations, by professional artist Maxwell, add modest real-world charm, notwithstanding a few odd proportions and facial expressions. For adults, what comes through between the lines is a sense of wistfulness from both sides: The boy wants to grow up fast; his grandmother doesn’t want him to rush, even as she assures him it will happen “all in good time.”

A gently resonant little book as pleasant as a walk in the park.

Pub Date: April 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1434931511

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Rosedog Books

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-80046-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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