For die-hard Ray Charles fans only.




Unremarkable memoir of the son of music legend Ray Charles.

Robinson recalls his upbringing and relationship with Charles based on his childhood memories, which are incomplete at best, and his own life story is simply not as compelling as his father’s. The most engaging sections of the book concern Robinson’s youth. In plain prose, he re-creates a sense of his father’s rapid upward trajectory in the 1950s after a life of struggle, and his surreal existence as the inquisitive child of a brilliant black celebrity in a segregated America. As a child, his father was present in his life as a benevolent, fascinating, yet distant figure. Robinson is frank about the darker undercurrents in his father’s meticulously arranged existence as family man and famous bandleader. He became aware of his heroin addiction before it culminated in the musician’s 1965 arrest, as well as his penchant for extramarital affairs. “My father's appetite for women was insatiable,” he writes. When the author was 18, in 1973, his mother finally initiated divorce proceedings, which shocked and embittered Charles, who “had convinced himself that the other women shouldn't matter to her as long as she was his wife and he took care of her.” Throughout, Robinson’s writing is workmanlike and bland, and the narrative becomes tedious as the adult author repeatedly sobers up and relapses into drug use. Even producing the lauded film Ray triggered this cycle—“the film would force me to revisit all the trauma, fear, and anxiety of my childhood.” With regard to his father’s death in 2004, Robinson flagellates himself for not spending more time with him in his last days, and accuses Charles’ handlers of quickly shutting out family members as the music world honored an icon.

For die-hard Ray Charles fans only.

Pub Date: June 8, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-46293-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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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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