An episodic, sometimes-moving remembrance.

A memoir of vignettes about clothing and accessories.

Lesser (Who’s Going to Watch My Kids?, 2015, etc.) begins her story in 1987, when she was entering eighth grade. Her parents decided to move her from a small Quaker school to a prep school near Princeton University, and Lesser struggled hard to fit in. She begged her mother to buy her the kind of signet ring the popular prep school kids had, and her mother finally relented. The ring becomes the first of a series of talismans that ground the author’s life experiences; they also form the structure of this memoir, in which each chapter is dedicated to a specific item. Later chapters center on a summer camp necklace, a handbag, indoor scarves, yoga bracelets, and other objects. Along the way, each article takes on symbolic significance; for example, an Elsa Peretti gold-heart necklace packaged in a Tiffany box, which Lesser’s parents gave to her on her 16th birthday, came to represent her search for love in high school and college, and a pair of funky Chan Luu earrings represented the true love that blossomed with her husband. At another point, a Kate Spade bag is shown be emotionally entangled with her marketing career in New York City. Some readers may be put off by the privileged perspective of this account, which is repeatedly demarcated by shopping trips to luxury retailers. Overall, the memoir may resonate most with readers who are fans of social media accounts that focus on lifestyle and motherhood. Lesser writes with a sense of humor and a strong, clear voice that brings to mind aspirational chick-lit novels. Her reflections on coping with the death of a parent are particularly poignant, as she uses a scarf, given to her by her dying mother, to represent her parent’s wish for her to be happy.

An episodic, sometimes-moving remembrance.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-622-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2019


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

Close Quickview