Next book



Interesting but self-congratulatory reading.

A celebrated African-American ballet dancer’s account of her unlikely rise to stardom.

Home was a relative term for Copeland. Her mother left her father when she was 2 and took the family from Kansas City to Southern California. There, they moved in with a man who was an alcoholic. Several years later, the author’s mother took her children and moved in with another man who ruled the family home with a stern, and sometimes brutal, hand. In this new environment, Copeland, who loved to perform, discovered that she could also “instantly do moves that it might take others months to achieve.” She began to teach herself gymnastics and, in middle school, became the drill team captain. Encouraged to take ballet classes at the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, Copeland learned basic ballet movement with astonishing rapidity. “I began hearing a word over and over again…that would follow me, define me,” she writes. “Prodigy.” But as her dancing flourished, her home life began to crumble. Soon, she, her mother and siblings had moved into a crowded motel room. A ballet teacher brought Copeland to live with her and prepare “for the career that was looming for [her].” Under pressure from her increasingly outraged mother, the courts forced the woman to return the girl to her home. By then, Copeland’s talent had brought her media attention and offers to attend schools sponsored by prestigious dance companies. One, the American Ballet Theatre, eventually became her permanent home. As Copeland learned, however, her dream to dance ballet and become a soloist for the ABT came at a high price, both physically and emotionally. Copeland’s depiction of the drive that pushed her to succeed in a white-dominated art form is inspiring, but she often overplays her narrative hand to the point where self-assurance comes across as smugness or arrogance.

Interesting but self-congratulatory reading.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3798-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

Next 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

Next book



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

Close Quickview