Goldberg writes eloquently of the “volcanic pressures” that shaped her family’s story and continue to haunt her own.



A daughter revisits her mother’s harrowing past.

Goldberg (Comparative Literature/Harvard Univ.; Sex and Enlightenment: Women in Richardson and Diderot, 1984) grew up knowing that her parents had survived the Holocaust through a combination of luck, agonizing struggles and selfless acts of heroism. Her emotionally shattering memoir focuses on her mother’s experiences, as the author seeks to understand a parent she felt had distanced herself from her children and to explore the legacy of the Holocaust on her own identity. “I have never known what to do with this history,” writes Goldberg. “It makes a better tale than anything that has happened in my own life, and it has to some extent paralyzed me.” She and her sisters felt they “had to live up to the myth we inherited…[of] our grandparents’ martyrdom, on the one hand, and our parents’ exceptional courage, on the other.” They felt inadequate and inconsequential in comparison. Surely, Hilde Jacobsthal emerges as heroic in Goldberg’s sensitive recounting, documented by material from the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies; histories and memoirs; and probing interviews with her mother, father and uncle. Living with her parents and brother in Amsterdam, Hilde was best friends with Anne Frank’s older sister, Margot; after the war, Otto Frank became Rita Goldberg’s godfather. Hilde happened to be away from Amsterdam when the Nazis made a sweeping arrest of Jews, including her parents. The 15-year-old returned home to find the Nazi seal on her door and her parents gone. She fled to Belgium and spent the war years in hiding, fearful always of betrayal. After the war, she served tirelessly and devotedly as a nurse, child care center director, and liaison with the British Red Cross in Bergen-Belsen, the American Joint Distribution Committee, and the U.N. Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

Goldberg writes eloquently of the “volcanic pressures” that shaped her family’s story and continue to haunt her own.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62097-073-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.



In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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