A clear and concise memoir of introspection, though Cohen’s journalistic approach may not provide abundant hope for readers.

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CHASING HOPE

A PATIENT'S DEEP DIVE INTO STEM CELLS, FAITH, AND THE FUTURE

A longtime multiple sclerosis patient seeks the meaning of hope.

For four decades, award-winning journalist Cohen (Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope, 2008, etc.) has lived with multiple sclerosis, a condition shared by his father and grandmother that has left him legally blind and with impaired movement. Through the years, the author has found many ways to cope with his condition (not to mention with two bouts of cancer), but he rarely thought of himself as having “hope.” An invitation to participate in stem cell research changed that. Throughout the book, Cohen touches on a variety of important themes, including how to live with chronic health conditions and the advancement of genetic treatments for such conditions. However, it is mainly a retelling of his own story, a means for catharsis. The author interviewed his children about their memories of him during their childhoods, during which he was prone to intense anger. The lack of any meaningful treatments for MS, as well as the lack of caring physicians, left Cohen with little to anticipate aside from a slowly degrading body. Meeting Dr. Saud Sadiq, however, forced him to look at his future anew. A pioneer in stem cell research for MS and a physician intensely committed to his patients, Sadiq allowed Cohen to experience not only hope for his own condition, but also encouragement that his suffering had not been in vain, that his treatment might lead the way to help for others. A committed nonbeliever, Cohen makes it clear that while many find hope in God—in one form or another—he does not. “For me, belief in the power of hope is linked to belief in the self.” Moreover, ties of family and friendship give people the very reason to hope. “Hope is a gift from us to us,” writes the author.

A clear and concise memoir of introspection, though Cohen’s journalistic approach may not provide abundant hope for readers.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-57525-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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