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A fascinating and hopeful book of family, bees, and how “even when [children] are overwhelmed with despair, nature has...

A moving memoir that tells the story of how helping her grandfather tend his beehives helped a girl survive a troubled childhood.

Former San Francisco Chronicle reporter May’s (co-author: I, Who Did Not Die, 2017) parents separated when she was 5. Her troubled, emotionally distant mother moved her and her younger brother back to the rural home shared by her own mother and her mother's second husband, who tended beehives all over Carmel Valley in California. After the author’s mother took to her room and refused to deal with the kids, the author spent most of her nonschool hours with “Grandpa,” driving around in his old truck to inspect hives, learning about bees, and eventually assisting him to harvest honey in an old bus he had rigged up just for this purpose. May balances the familiar story of an inadequate mother who veers between neglect and occasional abuse with a clear portrayal of her gratitude for the thoughtful, dependable man who taught her to reach out beyond her toxic nuclear family and make her way into the wider world, encouraging her to go to college and not let herself be defined by her mother's weaknesses. Her love of nature, too, and particularly of the unexpected intricacies of the ways bees behave, has provided her with a sense of peace and perspective. “Over time,” she writes, “the more I discovered about the inner world of honeybees, the more sense I was able to make of the outer world of people.” May also weaves into the narrative intriguing facts about the social lives and roles of honeybees, and she describes with affection the details of the process of producing honey and the role the beekeeper plays in the lives of bees. While her subject may be honeybees, they serve as a launching point for a tale of self-discovery and the natural world at large.

A fascinating and hopeful book of family, bees, and how “even when [children] are overwhelmed with despair, nature has special ways to keep them safe.”

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-0778-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Park Row Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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