A remembrance with lively individual scenes that fail to merge into a cohesive whole.

A debut memoir about a woman’s three-decade search for connection and self-assurance.

Born in 1962, Chadwick grew up in suburban Chicago with her parents, brother, and half sister. She went to Catholic school and describes her house as “idyllic,” fondly recalling a birch tree in the yard; she often found solace in its shade. Her mother’s perfectionism made her anxious, though, as did her father's frequent absences for business. When her brother removed a family of rabbits from under her tree, Chadwick writes, she began to sense a growing instability in her world. When she was in middle school, her parents divorced, and she moved to a town house with her mother. She found the new location very disruptive, she says, because “my physical, material world defined my foundation.” She entered journalism school keen to learn advertising but socially insecure; she wanted a boyfriend but was unable to connect to the young men she met. During this time, she renewed her faith in God, the only relationship “that never caused anxiety, frustration, or loneliness.” Upon graduation, Chadwick found work in advertising with a number of firms from which she was either fired or laid off, further damaging her self-confidence. Eventually, she landed a job with a bank and moved to San Francisco, where she met her future husband. Together, they returned to Chicago and found their home. Chadwick brings numerous anecdotes to life with vivid dialogue and details of settings and characters. She recalls exactly what she wore on a date in the 1980s, for example, as well as the flow of each conversation she had over the years. In her acknowledgments, Chadwick says she revised her autobiography until she had a memoir that was “complete with experiences of reflections and takeaways.” Unfortunately, although the book touches on promising themes—including the effects of divorce and the need for home—she doesn’t explore them in great detail. Instead, readers are left with a long series of events, unsure where to invest their energy or empathy.

A remembrance with lively individual scenes that fail to merge into a cohesive whole.

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-357-1

Page Count: 248

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: April 16, 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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