Resonant memories captured with lyrical grace.

A chronicle of the author's global interactions.

As a creative writer, activist, educator, and humanitarian aid worker, Holden’s life is a prismatic tapestry of moods, relationships, travel, and culture. In a collected series of essays and anecdotal meditations, she chronicles the many paths her travels have taken her, including time spent as an art model, crossing the border from Turkey into a Syrian “war zone” camp, and in Northern California, where she lives with her cousin. The author’s observations of Syria are intricately drawn and compassionately depict the area’s war-torn people and their seemingly “bleak future.” Holden’s creation of Survival Girls, a women’s theater group for Congolese refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, forms the backdrop for several anecdotes about female empowerment and enlightenment through performance and improvisation. Her writing is consistently and impressively flexible, wrapping around subject matter from varying corners of the intellectual and emotional spectrum. Reflections on the complexities of political exile in Inner Mongolia run alongside accounts of several visits to Bolivia, where she receives a message from a male ex-lover who broke her heart but with whom she commingled after breaking up with a clingy girlfriend. The author also presents thoughts about the Ferguson unrest and memories of planting seedlings on an island off the coast of Maine, a place where “ghosts are loosened.” Holden’s inspired prose forms a kaleidoscope of emotion, oscillating from the elegiac to the gorgeous to the humorous and self-deprecating, as when she describes her naiveté when first approaching Syrian soil: “I have no poker face and all the diplomatic discretion of Honey-Boo-Boo.” Discussing the shock of being 12 days pregnant, she writes how she composed a poem “to the unborn child I wasn’t ready for, whose mother wouldn’t have a house, a viable income, or a spouse.” Overall, the collection is poetic and entrancing, and the author’s experiences are deep and affecting. Though her travels may not personally affect every reader, her sensorial imagery of them will be contemplated with artful appreciation.

Resonant memories captured with lyrical grace.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-888553-95-6

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Kore Press

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018


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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