An essential addition to the literature about adoption, reflecting a viewpoint that is sorely lacking.

MOTHERHOOD SO WHITE

A MEMOIR OF RACE, GENDER, AND PARENTING IN AMERICA

What does it mean to be a single black mother in America?

In her debut memoir, Austin (Abandon, 1996, etc.) examines what it means to legally adopt a black child through the foster care system as a single black woman. The book opens with the author taking her 5-year-old adopted son, August, to a Black Lives Matter rally “just outside the Beverly Hills hub,” where they live. Austin palpably recounts the urgency of this current moment, especially regarding the constant possibility of lethal danger for black people in America. As she notes, innocence is a currency that black children cannot afford. Austin explores how this has been a recurrent theme throughout American history, one that has always created deep trauma within the black community and family structure. She seamlessly weaves her adoption story into discussions of her ideas of motherhood, which are particularly relevant because she was raised by her grandparents after being abandoned by her own birth mother. Austin challenges readers to question the ideal of motherhood as being synonymous with whiteness. Along the way, she tackles the inherent sexism, classism, and racism within the adoption system and the broader community, and she forcefully pushes back against the vilification of the single black mother and the idea of the unwanted black child in the adoption system. Austin also addresses the lack of literary work focused on stories of black motherhood in general and black adoption in particular. During her research, much of what she found centered on white adoption and ignored her unique challenges. Austin closes with first-person interviews with other black mothers who share their individual parenting journeys, helping to further bolster the author’s argument that black motherhood is not monolithic.

An essential addition to the literature about adoption, reflecting a viewpoint that is sorely lacking.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7901-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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