Sad, controversial and illuminating.




A mother explores, morally and emotionally, her decision to forgo medical help and allow her newborn son to die.

Within hours of giving birth to a son, Silvan, Wesolowska learned that he was not the healthy baby they had hoped for. Silvan was plagued with physical problems requiring intervention: a blood clot followed by a seizure. After falling into a coma, he was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, a condition in which the brain doesn't receive sufficient oxygen. Silvan was kept alive over the following weeks with a feeding tube. Though this heart-wrenching book revisits scenes from the author’s Catholic childhood, during which she was consumed with fear of losing her mother, and includes present-day musings on raising the sons she subsequently had, the majority of the narrative unfolds over the month of Silvan's life. Wesolowska describes the grave difficulty of the choice she and her husband faced and, weighing Silvan's "extremely grim" prognosis, why they decided to remove his feeding tube. They were required to meet with the hospital's ethics committee, and their choice to let their son die was met with reactions ranging from outrage to compassion. They took Silvan home, where his system gradually shut down. "Love outlasts grief," Wesolowska concludes. "Though we can't say for certain we made the right choice for Silvan, our love for him has survived." Written in the present tense, the book is an achingly beautiful and honest chronicle, sure to incite mixed reactions. This isn't a memoir aimed to comfort, but rather to reveal one family's experience, and Wesolowska presents her story with grace.

Sad, controversial and illuminating.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0986000713

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Hawthorne Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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

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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

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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

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