An eloquent message of comfort directed toward fellow travelers.

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A BETTER PLACE

A MEMOIR OF PEACE IN THE FACE OF TRAGEDY

An author shares her struggle to find a meaningful mission after her son is killed in their California hometown.

Poblete (The Oracles, 2006) spent many years as a San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter; later she worked with international governments and agencies, addressing issues of climate change and environmental crisis. But her memoir focuses on her physical, emotional, and spiritual journey to overcome the paralyzing grief she endured after her 23-year-old son, Robby, was gunned down in broad daylight. Robby was the 14th of 18 homicides in Vallejo in 2013. As Poblete makes clear early on, she is not interested in giving any space to the four perpetrators; this story is about Robby and how his joyful embrace of life inspired her to follow his path. Once she was able to drag herself out of bed, Poblete, a Roman Catholic, began reading Robby’s books on Buddhism and went to a Buddhist monastery for a three-day retreat. Carrying readers through the two years following Robby’s death, she emotionally details her sorrow and rage until she discovered a cause—fighting for and overseeing the creation of a singular gun buyback program in Vallejo. Of her determination to move forward, she writes, “I had a clear decision to make: Wake up each morning fueled by hate and revenge, or wake up fueled by love and forgiveness.” Poblete alternates between heartfelt reflections on moments in Robby’s life and engrossing recollections of her road to recovery, offering a vivid and succinct articulation of the lasting experience of grief: “You remember the call you got. You think of the shock that will ensue, and the long, lingering pain that will ebb and flow, like the phantom pain of a lost limb.” Yet her commitment to the Robby Poblete Foundation, which ensures that a portion of the melted-down guns is turned into art and the remainder donated to welding workshops for disadvantaged teenagers, allows her to conclude: “I felt and continue to feel profound sadness and a deep loss. But I also feel gratitude, happiness and even hope.”

An eloquent message of comfort directed toward fellow travelers.

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946706-99-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Nothing But The Truth Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

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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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BECOMING

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...

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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