An inspiriting but meandering account of mental illness.

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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A BIPOLAR

Hulbert’s memoir recalls his struggle with bipolarity and the strength he found in religion.

Debut author Hulbert was born in 1944 in Southern Cross, Australia. At 16, crushed by heartbreak, he decided to devote himself to the quest for eternal life as understood by the Catholic Church and eventually joined the Christian Brothers. However, at 20, he suffered his first mental collapse, an experience he believed was triggered by the mortification of giving an unspectacular presentation before a room of his peers. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the next 27 years living productively. Eventually, however, he had another breakdown. This time, he was diagnosed with chronic bipolar disorder, which he most likely struggled with since his adolescence. The author was besieged by manic delusions of grandeur, twice convinced he was the Messiah. He underwent electroconvulsive therapy, a treatment that only succeeded in inducing a listless indifference to life. Repeatedly, Hulbert sought guidance from his Christian faith and solace in the love offered by his wife and son. The author covers an eclectic range of subjects, including an account of his moral objections to abortion and summaries of some of the nearly 1,000 spiritual stories he claims he’s written. Hulbert’s confessional candor is admirable, and he makes a powerful case for the possibility of flourishing with bipolarity. However, this strangely rambling recollection is so disjointed it ultimately becomes hard to follow. There are countless lists produced of his favorite singers, songs, authors, teachers, and instrumentalists, only to name a few. He sometimes refers to himself in the third person and peppers the text with numerically driven boasts. Apparently, he may have saved 950 souls from purgatory and picked up 3,800 Facebook friends in five weeks.

An inspiriting but meandering account of mental illness.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5434-0530-9

Page Count: 218

Publisher: XlibrisAU

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 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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