A beautiful story of real-life redemption.




This honest, brisk, and ultimately very moving memoir offers a strong alternative to the stereotype of the “playa”: the irresponsible young black man who preys on women and nonchalantly fathers children out of wedlock.

“I’ve been obsessed with being a husband and father since I was seven years old,” writes Datcher, a poet and journalist, now presumably in his 30s. “Quiet as it’s kept, many young black men have the same obsession. Picket fence dreams. A played-out metaphor in the white community but one still secretly riding the bench in black neighborhoods nationwide.” Datcher grew up in poor areas in southern California, where most of his friends were fatherless, like him. “We rarely talked about our missing fathers. Instead, we poured our passion into our skateboards, our marbles, and our mothers. Yet the unspoken sparkled from our eyes whenever any neighborhood men showed us attention.” The son of a diligent, devoted mother who teaches him self-respect, Datcher becomes a rare success story, a good student and athlete who attends Berkeley and later UCLA before launching his career as a freelance journalist and community activist, and who is committed to the idea of eventually finding love, getting married, and having a family. Then a woman he’s only casually involved with gets pregnant, and for a time it seems that Datcher has blown his own most fervent dream: He’s going to have a child out of wedlock, just as his own (unknown) father did, just as he promised himself he’d never do. Will he rise to occasion and become responsible for his actions, or wallow in crushing self-pity? Throughout his self-portrait, Datcher is hard on himself for his mistakes and misjudgments. But he’s also suitably forgiving—both of himself for hurting people he cares about, and of others who do him wrong (such as his girlfriend, who turns out to have lied about his being her baby’s father). And when it ultimately looks as if he’s found the true love and commitment he’s striven for, he approaches it with humility and hard-earned maturity as well as joyous expectation.

A beautiful story of real-life redemption.

Pub Date: March 5, 2001

ISBN: 1-57322-171-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?