Weldon pins life to the mat in this valiant, passionate, purposeful memoir.

A single mother of three juggles multiple roles as a wrestling mom and a survivor of cancer and an abusive marriage.

Northwestern University academic and veteran journalist Weldon (Everyman News: The Changing American Front Page, 2007, etc.) chronicles the challenging 25-year span after her divorce from her physically and emotionally abusive husband, who abandoned the family for a “better life for himself” in Amsterdam. The author writes of her husband’s torturous behavior with palpable notes of regret, anger, and shame; he began hitting her just four months after their wedding. In 1995, nine years later, Weldon obtained an order of protection, which thrust her husband out of the family home and spurred acrimonious divorce proceedings that granted her sole custody of three boys, then ages 6, 4, and 1. “I knew I could not make up for the father who left my sons,” writes the author, yet it was obvious even then that she would have to morph into supermom. With affable, heartfelt text, Weldon shares the intimate details of her trial-and-error parenting of three competitive wrestlers, each in varying stages of resentment over their father’s heartless disinterest in them. Compounding this difficult situation was a breast cancer diagnosis and court appearances in which the author sought thousands in back child support. Thankfully, the boys’ wrestling coach assisted her with the finer finessing of their sporting lives. While Weldon’s reality as a composed, collected warrior navigating the slings and arrows of single parenthood can sometimes materialize into overly defensive diatribes, it also defuses a groundswell of “political and polarizing” perceptions about working mothers. Her gracefully told memoir will surely embolden readers in similar situations to “maintain your dignity and your sanity, and raise children who contribute to the world while you do the same.”

Weldon pins life to the mat in this valiant, passionate, purposeful memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61373-352-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015


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



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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