A remarkable, empathetic, and intense exploration of the nature of grief and guilt, featuring searing personal insights as...

I KNOW IT IN MY HEART

WALKING THROUGH GRIEF WITH A CHILD

A veteran clinical psychologist examines cancer and a child’s grief in this debut memoir.

When her firecracker sister Martha was diagnosed with breast cancer, Plouffe believed she had the tools to deal with whatever happened, including the interminable machinations of the insurance company, the roller coaster of recovery and relapse, and the demands of a large family scattered across three states. Martha and her doctors played the numbers game, but only one number mattered to this mother of a 3-year-old: “I need twenty years to raise Liamarie.” And when a treatment designed to extend Martha’s life inadvertently ended it, Plouffe was forced to inspect not only her own grief, but also that of the newly abandoned child. The author tells not only the story of “how we got through the horror” of Martha’s death in the years that followed, but also “how we got back,” detailing family members’ exhausting emotional journeys as they attempted to heal and move on with their lives while managing Liamarie’s mental health as she grew from toddler to teenager. As a psychologist dealing with trauma on a daily basis, Plouffe found herself reiterating the received wisdom that “grieving is a two-year process” only to discover the advice as lacking in the glut of platitudes that met her in the wake of Martha’s death. She came to realize that “grief is not a broken heart...grief is a fractured soul,” and her striking tale is one of reconciling her career experiences with the agonizing reality of personal loss, told in a manner that wisely avoids sentimentality and embraces the warts-and-all irrationality of mourning. Where a lesser writer might lean into the darling precocity of Liamarie and offer the child as a panacea to the suffering, Plouffe uses an almost clinical examination of the girl’s development as a springboard to reconsidering her own attitude toward the grieving process. What results is a bracing and accessible account of the conflict between emotion and intellect.

A remarkable, empathetic, and intense exploration of the nature of grief and guilt, featuring searing personal insights as well as cleareyed professionalism.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-200-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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

NIGHT

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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