A searing visit to a Dickensian world of cruelty and indifference to children.

SOMEBODY’S SOMEONE

A MEMOIR

Debut memoirist Louise eloquently indicts a family and community that abused and neglected her.

Worst of all, the author states in her colloquial first-person narrative, they made her feel unwanted. Regina’s teenaged mother, Ruby, already had another daughter, born when she was 13, so the new baby was handed off to Big Mama, a foster mother in Austin, Texas, who provided the bare necessities for the children in her care. Beaten badly by Big Mama’s daughter, Regina ran away to the woman she believed to be her father’s mother, who was not only abusive but also unwilling to raise her; soon she was back with Big Mama. Louise describes a troubled childhood that included truancy and rape. Initially happy when she was moved from Big Mama to her biological mother, now living in North Carolina with two sons by another man, Regina soon learned that Ruby favored her sons, and she endured sexual and physical abuse from Ruby’s current boyfriend. She moved to California to be with her father, married to a white woman, but he was no better, and 12-year-old Regina landed in a county shelter. There, she met Claire Kennedy, an employee who treated her with kindness, appreciation, and growing affection. Regina wanted to stay in the shelter near Claire, but the authorities insisted she be placed in foster homes, oppressive and uncaring places from which she ran away. Another hurtful blow landed when her parents gave up custody and she became a ward of the state. Regina, whose experiences with black families had not been good, longed to live permanently with Claire, but the state objected to a white woman adopting her. The end of this volume, first in a planned pair, finds the traumatized girl still in limbo.

A searing visit to a Dickensian world of cruelty and indifference to children.

Pub Date: June 12, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-52910-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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...

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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