A touching personal account of a journey to understanding and acceptance; informative and unsettling.

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A MEMOIR OF NATURE, NURTURE, AND LOVE

A memoir examines the complex psychological impact of adoption.

MacDonald was born in 1945. Her biological mother was 16 years old and unmarried. The baby was put up for adoption, and, at 6 weeks of age, the author became the daughter of Rex and Lorene Benham. The moment she joined the Benham family, she writes, was the beginning of her “origin story.” Sixteen years later, history would repeat itself when MacDonald found herself entering the Phoenix Florence Crittenton Home for unwed mothers. She had hoped to keep the baby and marry her boyfriend, John. But they were underage; his father was against the marriage; and John wanted to go to West Point the following year. Plus, MacDonald knew that her mother was upset about the pregnancy. In January 1962, the author gave birth to her son. She saw him for only a moment. It would be 21 years before they would meet. John and MacDonald did in fact marry two years later. They ultimately had four children, in addition to the one she surrendered. The author is in a unique position to discuss the trauma of adoption from two sides—as an adoptee who always felt she didn’t belong and as a mother who endured the initial anguish of giving up her baby and the many years of worrying if he was well or even alive. The articulate narrative includes sections that review MacDonald’s childhood and teenage years and some vivid scenes depicting her anger and despair while at the Crittenton Home. But it is decidedly focused on the displacement that author Nancy Newton Verrier wrote about in her book The Primal Wound. Some therapists explain that this wound is the psychological pain adopted infants feel when they are denied physical contact with the women with whom they have established neurological and biochemical connections. MacDonald describes it more viscerally as a wound that leaves a permanent scar: “Adoption creates a deep scratch on the LP of the soul. Every time the record revolves, the needle drops into that scratch.”

A touching personal account of a journey to understanding and acceptance; informative and unsettling.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 393

Publisher: Grand Canyon Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2020

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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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BECOMING

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...

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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