Ohden’s perseverance is inspiring, but the presentation lacks the emotional and literary heft her important story warrants.

YOU CARRIED ME

A DAUGHTER'S MEMOIR

A memoir of mothers, daughters, adoption, and abortion.

“Many people think abortion is a discrete act that has no lasting effect,” writes Ohden, the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network, in her debut book. “They are so wrong! Abortion can’t be compartmentalized and is never forgotten. And its effects ripple through generations.” The author shares her feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, and anger when she learned, at age 14, that she was the survivor of a botched abortion procedure. Weighing less than 3 pounds at birth and suffering from respiratory distress, she was barely surviving when her adoptive parents took her home at 2 months old. Ohden always knew she was adopted: "it just was—a fact of life as ordinary as the sunshine in the morning, the starlight in the evenings, and the cozy walls around me.” Thankfully, she was supported by a loving family and welcoming church community. A childhood argument with her adoptive sister revealed the author’s birth story, and she spent a decade struggling to come to terms with having been an unwanted baby, turning her experience and insights into a rewarding career in social work. Upon locating her birth father, she reached out to him only to discover that he had passed away; her birth mother proved harder to locate. At the same time, her life continued forward with marriage and her own experiences with birth, miscarriage, and a second daughter, who was born with significant medical issues. She also continued to work toward resolving her religious beliefs with her experiences. Ohden's story is complicated, and she has impressively overcome significant emotional challenges. Unfortunately, the writing is merely average, and the narrative has the feel of a transcript or summary of events and emotions and how her faith saw her through.

Ohden’s perseverance is inspiring, but the presentation lacks the emotional and literary heft her important story warrants.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-87486-788-6

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Plough

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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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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