An anatomy of survival, which could prove vital to those marked by sexual abuse.


Excavating Pieces


Husted, an accomplished actor, comes to terms with childhood sexual abuse in this courageous yet harrowing debut memoir.

Husted is the youngest of three brothers who grew up in rural Michigan with an absent father who had a string of criminal offenses ranging from minor misdemeanors to check fraud. Their mother was a fragile, somewhat naive woman who, in search of financial security, married George, the stepfather of nightmares. Appearing benevolent at first, he revealed himself to be venomously strict with the brothers. Alarm bells rang when he forced them to strip naked and lie backside up on the bed. He subjected the boys to brutal whippings with a belt while seeming to gain gratification from viewing their prone bodies. George manipulated the boys by paying them to give him massages, and the author reveals how, at 8 years old, he was encouraged to explore his stepfather’s body, which ultimately led to him sexually gratifying the older man. This abuse became a regular occurrence, and the author explains how a young boy can easily confuse a sexual predator’s coercions with an act of love. The encounters, described in detail, are heartbreakingly difficult to read. The boy becomes a self-fashioned detective, trying to ascertain whether the relationship he is experiencing is discernible in other family units. Cracks begin to show when his older brother Gary stands up to George, threatening him with an ax and accusing him of molestation. Bewilderingly, the boys’ mother chooses to ignore the accusations and continues her relationship with George. The memoir is a survival narrative, about growing up and coming to understand not only the abuser but those who enable the abuse. The author also openly describes coming to terms with his own sexuality as he realizes that he is attracted to men. The almost unbearable psychological trauma depicted here is offset by a powerful positivity as the author turns valiantly to face his past head on, writing with an admirable eloquence and honesty.

An anatomy of survival, which could prove vital to those marked by sexual abuse. 

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1492243014

Page Count: 250

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2014

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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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