A highly expressive, tender story about how “families are like pieces of art, they can be made from many materials.”

A young Haitian girl opens the door to unconditional love for an American couple.

When Albom (The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, 2018, etc.) became director of the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, he knew the children would make an impact on his life, but one toddler in particular, Chika, stole his heart. She was born just three days before the earthquake that destroyed Haiti in 2010. “It was tragedy on an island where tragedy is no stranger,” writes the author. When Chika arrived at the orphanage, she was only 3, but she quickly became a leader among the children. When she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, a condition the neurologist in Haiti said could not be treated there, Albom and his wife brought Chika into their Michigan home and sought out the best treatment they could find. When those treatments failed, they traveled for two years to other countries for experimental procedures, anything that would prolong Chika’s life. In addition to his own viewpoint, the author narrates the story by imagining what Chika was thinking and feeling. As Albom makes clear from the start, Chika did not survive her condition (she died in 2017 at age 7); his writing about this journey is unadorned, heartwarming, and rarely maudlin. He shares his joy at becoming a father to this vivacious child, his fears as he reintroduced Chika to her biological father, and the pain and sorrow he felt when she died. He marvels at the relationship Chika had with his wife and shares his amazement that Chika so readily connected with other adults. The takeaway from this simple, moving memoir is that love has no boundaries and should not be hindered by ethnicity, religion, education, or money.

A highly expressive, tender story about how “families are like pieces of art, they can be made from many materials.”

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295239-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019


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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