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

SURRENDER

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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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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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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