A candid, moving memoir about the many complexities of family.



In a debut memoir, a former CNN reporter and current Emmy Award–winning Good Morning America producer recounts her family’s painful history.

Before Peterson was 10, both her parents had suffered mental breakdowns; her father, after two suicide attempts, finally confessed to his wife that he was gay. After the couple divorced, her mother plummeted into severe depression. For months, she was hospitalized, while her daughter expressed her own pain by reverting to bed-wetting. When her mother returned home, although as warm and loving as she always had been, her spirit seemed broken. Her weight ballooned, she no longer cared about her physical appearance, and, most alarming, she let the house become overrun with debris: newspapers, unopened mail, dirty dishes and clothing, dust and grime. When appliances broke, she failed to get them fixed. The kitchen, Peterson recalls, “began to take on the feel of a used appliance museum.” For college, Peterson left her Wisconsin home for Manhattan and then moved to Atlanta, Germany, and Turkey on posts for CNN. Each time she returned, however, she saw her mother increasingly overwhelmed with trash, refusing Peterson’s offer to help, to hire cleaners, or to find another place to live. Even her car was stuffed with garbage, and the house became infested with mice, chipmunks, bats, and insects. For years, the toilets did not work, causing an acrid stench. As the author’s career took off and as she married and had children, her mother deteriorated, barring everyone from the house and denying that she was a hoarder. Peterson reminded her of their shared love of white dresses, “a way of starting over…a way of wiping the whole slate clean.” But her mother was incapable of renewal, and she died trapped by depression, loneliness, and chaos. Peterson’s generous homage to her mother offers an empathetic look at a baffling, frustrating mental illness.

A candid, moving memoir about the many complexities of family.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-238697-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?