A compellingly honest coming-of-age memoir.



A prizewinning nonfiction writer’s account of a troubled adolescence spent immersed in alcohol, drugs, and crime.

Massachusetts native Stanton (English/Univ. of Massachusetts, Lowell; Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America, 2011, etc.) grew up in the shadow of the Walpole State Prison between the “hopeful early days of the 1960s” and the more turbulent ones of the decade that followed. Her own early life was filled with such happy, middle-class childhood staples as tennis lessons, babysitting, and slumber parties. But as she reached adolescence, the quality of her life eroded. Her parents separated and suddenly became part of the emergent “divorce boom.” Caught in an economic slump that characterized the early and middle part of the decade, her newly impoverished head-of-household mother shoplifted for clothes while a rebellious Stanton started on a path of substance abuse. She writes that just as “Nixon declared ‘an all-out, global war on the drug menace’ and formed a superagency, the DEA,” she had become an eighth grader who “smoked dope regularly and drank nearly every weekend.” By high school, Stanton had graduated to getting “dusted” on PCP, the large-animal tranquilizer that became the go-to drug for Walpole youths unable to obtain marijuana. Wanting to leave her outwardly good-student, cheerleader image behind, the author also engaged in petty theft and eventually became involved with a boy who was on probation for breaking and entering. For all her dangerous experiments, which included driving under the influence or being driven by “people so fucked up they could barely stay in the lane,” the author survived through a combination of luck and her own efforts to seek help. Powerful and probing, Stanton’s book offers a sharp portrait of a wayward girl “leaping backward” into disaster. Along the way, she reveals the way individuals are as much a product of time and place as they are of the families to which they belong.

A compellingly honest coming-of-age memoir.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-90023-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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 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 19, 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...


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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