Courageous and emotionally intense.

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GIRL UNBROKEN

A SISTER'S HARROWING STORY OF SURVIVAL FROM THE STREETS OF LONG ISLAND TO THE FARMS OF IDAHO

The follow-up to Calcaterra’s bestselling Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island (2013).

In her second book, the author teams up with her youngest sister, Maloney, to tell the story of their alcoholic and psychologically damaged mother, Cookie. Their two older sisters managed to leave the family through marriage or moving in with friends; Calcaterra sought legal emancipation at age 14. However, because Maloney and her brother, Norm, were still young children, they were forced to stay with Cookie, who “only wanted [them] for the welfare checks.” When she was “too busy” drinking and carousing to look after Maloney and her brother, the pair went into a foster care home, where they were abused. Cookie eventually kidnapped her children and took them to live with an assortment of men she picked up in bars or on the street. To escape legal problems and being “put in the slammer,” Cookie and her children left for Idaho. There they stayed with friends until Cookie was caught stealing from her hosts. Life only began to stabilize for Maloney and Norm after Cookie finally settled down with Clyde, the Mormon husband of another woman. As Maloney entered adolescence, she endured unwanted sexual advances from Clyde, more beatings from her mother, and virtual enslavement as a worker on the farm where they lived. School and the hope of reunion with her sisters, who did whatever they could to help, saved Maloney from a temporary slide into alcohol and drugs and occasional thoughts of suicide. In the end, she not only broke free of Cookie, but also found the happiness that had eluded her throughout her youth. As engrossing as Etched in Sand, this book is a testament to Maloney’s remarkable resilience and a moving tribute to the unbreakable bond of love she shared with her siblings.

Courageous and emotionally intense.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241258-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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