A short but powerful amalgam of journalistic rigor and emotional sensitivity.

The Hidden Life of a Young Woman

In this biography, a woman lives a remarkably independent, productive, and loving life despite a grim medical diagnosis as an infant.

Jonathan Schlesinger and Angelia Edmonton met in 1951 Atlanta, fell deeply in love, and got married. They moved to Philadelphia, where their first child, Joanna, was born in 1954, a month prematurely, weighing in at a mere five pounds. Her parents noticed that one of her eyes sometimes moved in an unusual way, so they shared their concerns with a doctor, who told them that Joanna suffered from irreversible brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. As a result, she experienced seizures and would need to take medication to control them. However, the drug put her in a fuguelike state, and she moved through life as if it was a slow-motion dream. When she turned 5, her parents decided that she needed a level of care that they were ill-prepared to provide, so they brought her to a home outside Philadelphia for mentally impaired children, run by the Sisters’ Order of Saint Mary’s of Providence. She lived there for the next three years, and after she stopped her regimen of medication, she began to live a life that approached normalcy. Then she was moved to the GlenEagles Institute, where her improvement continued to defy expectations. She was athletically active and eventually became a Girl Scout. Finally, she became one of six people chosen to participate in a special university-led program designed to prepare them for the workforce, and she specifically trained to work as a dental assistant. She demonstrated impressive competence and responsibility, forged meaningful relationships, and led a strikingly independent life. Author Slaughter conducted years of meticulous research on Joanna and her family members, including interviews, and his thoroughness shows; in fewer than 100 pages, he paints a full, vivid picture of Joanna’s journey. The story particularly comes alive when he focuses on the nonmedical aspects of her struggle: her openness to love, her fierce sense of self-reliance, and her growing religious faith. The prose is straightforward and unadorned, which allows Joanna’s story to take center stage rather than compete with literary embellishments. This is a poignant, affecting history that will surely inspire readers confronting medical limitations or those who love someone struggling to overcome disability. 

A short but powerful amalgam of journalistic rigor and emotional sensitivity. 

Pub Date: April 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5127-3458-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2016

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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 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...


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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