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Soul-searching has never been more comprehensive.

An exploration of the lengths we will go to heal.

There are countless books on New Age subjects, from studies on chakras and dream incubation to manifestos on psychometry. Griswold’s debut is in that vein, as she provides an exhaustive look at alternative treatments, but wrapped up in that narrative is a personal tale about her own quest to find comfort and healing from the scars of her youth and the tragedy of her divorce after her husband was caught soliciting a prostitute. Somehow, the author managed to find some humor in her situation, and she positions her sarcasm well with the book’s format. Each chapter begins with a breakdown of the remedy she’s seeking. For instance, in Chapter 10, Griswold documents her attendance of an “About Sex Seminar” at age 15. Under subheads, she summarizes the concept before diving into the actual treatment: “Equipment Needed: The seminar leader has a manual in front of the room. This is one manual I’d like to get my hands on. Employment: My job making Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls on Balboa Island doesn’t cover the tuition. Cost: $225. Humiliation Factor: Warming up.” But how did a 15-year-old become a regular at self-help talks, sex seminars, and personal growth workshops? The answer lies in her Christian Scientist family’s fascination with New Age theologies—Griswold asked for her own mantra at age 7—and her parents’ efforts to mend their own marriage with various therapies. Of course, both marriages—Griswold’s and her parents’—fell apart, and those losses are at the heart of the author’s quest to find some sense of recovery with everything from Vipassana meditation retreats to stick therapy to an ayahuasca tea treatment, which made her vomit for hours. As remedies, the results were decidedly mixed, but vicariously living them through her telling makes for a fascinating book.

Soul-searching has never been more comprehensive.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63565-220-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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...

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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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