A slim, thoughtful, and candid account of a single, sober mother seeking fulfillment.

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SOBER HEART

REFLECTIONS ON LIFE AND LOVE IN RECOVERY

Journalist and musician Lerner shares lessons that she learned while recovering from alcoholism in this debut essay collection.

The author says that she started a blog in the hope of combating a stereotype that she calls “The Guy in the Trench Coat”—a visual of a disheveled man, lingering on a street corner with a pint bottle of liquor in his pocket. She says that this idea of an alcoholic lingers not only in the minds of the general public, but also in those of addicts: “During my brief career as a problem drinker, I didn’t think I had a problem,” she writes in her introduction to this book. “Why not? Because I never turned into The Guy in the Trench Coat.” The essays collected here discuss Lerner’s five years as a drinker and eight years of sobriety, focusing particularly on the ways that her addiction related to her identity as a single mother who was unlucky in love. The essays, rarely longer than three pages in length, provide snapshots into the recovery process, addressing temptation, longing for approval, and figuring out how to fill one’s day, absent the structure that drinking provides. Some cover difficult moments, such as when Lerner met her recovering-alcoholic ex for lunch, and he told her that he’d received a terminal health diagnosis—and was drinking again. Others deal with more quotidian topics, such as Lerner’s inability to finish the E.L. James novel Fifty Shades of Grey because she didn’t find it relatable. The author offers many bits of useful wisdom, as when she says, “A gentle ‘no’ is the essence of sober behavior—just as important to master as a thoughtful ‘yes.’ ” Overall, her book illustrates how varied the experience of alcoholism can be, and how much of recovery is concerned with things other than the fear of relapse. It will likely appeal most to readers whose midlife drinking problems developed as a means of coping with other difficult issues. Such problems are not erased by sobriety, Lerner points out, but she effectively shows how her sobriety allowed her to finally confront other problems.

A slim, thoughtful, and candid account of a single, sober mother seeking fulfillment.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 132

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2019

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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