Unsettling, of course, but hopeful and uplifting.



Harrowing account of a teenage girl in crisis, told with remarkable frankness by her mother.

Dudman, a divorcée raising two children while running a network of radio stations in Maine, thought she was doing a good job of balancing work and family. Suddenly, however, her daughter spun out of control—staying out all night, skipping school, drinking, taking drugs, lying, screaming curses at her mother, even threatening her with a knife. Unable to cope with Augusta's frighteningly self-destructive behavior and fearful for her daughter’s safety, Dudman eventually sent the 16-year-old out west to a rugged six-week wilderness program for troubled children. This was followed by placement in Forest Ridge, a boarding school in Oregon designed expressly to help adolescents like her. Dudman’s vivid account of the painful visits with her angry, sometimes even hateful daughter, and of her encounters with other parents and school counselors chill the heart. Shortly after one visit, when some progress appeared to have been made, Augusta ran away. After a detective found her, Dudman sent her for another session at the wilderness program, and then back to Forest Ridge, where she again ran away. Through the Runaway Switchboard and Home Free, Augusta contacted her mother and begged to be allowed to come home. Dudman agreed, stipulating that certain rules of behavior be followed. Soon after August returned, Dudman placed her in a tiny residential school in Camden, from which she graduated in 1999. Dudman, who readily reveals her inner turmoil, anger, and despair, does not pretend to know what changed her daughter. Her own adolescent years were a troubled time too, and her recollections of them give a special poignancy to her account of her daughter’s actions. If there’s any message to other parents of teens in this candid memoir of a hellish time, it’s “hang in there.”

Unsettling, of course, but hopeful and uplifting.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7432-0409-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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