An informative book that leaves the author exposed throughout as the center of attention, as opposed to God.

COSTLY GRACE

AN EVANGELICAL MINISTER’S REDISCOVERY OF FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE

Christian activist and minister Schenck provides a provocative autobiography centered on the evolution of his life as a person of faith.

Born into a nominally Jewish family, the author and his identical twin brother, Paul, shocked their parents by converting to Christianity as teenagers and, soon thereafter, jumping headlong into evangelical ministry. While still rather young, the brothers moved wholeheartedly into the nascent anti-abortion movement of the late 1980s. From the rise of Operation Rescue, Schenck describes in page-turning detail his life at the heart of the abortion controversy. The author seems to have been at almost every important event and turning point as evangelical Christianity reached its zenith of political influence in the George W. Bush years—and as it began a slide into confusion, infighting, and muddled morality over the past decade. Having set himself up in Washington, D.C., targeting politicians and others of influence, Schenck became a well-known face of the religious right, often conferring with members of Congress and being interviewed by the press. But years of fame, travel, legal troubles, and near zealotry took their toll on the author and his family. Early in the Barack Obama era, an encounter with the works of German writer Dietrich Bonhoeffer caused Schenck to re-evaluate his ministry and his priorities, including his involvement with “the politicized religion that had infected me and millions of others back in the eighties, when American evangelicals entered into their Faustian pact with Ronald Reagan’s party.” The author’s seemingly sudden change from a card-carrying fundamentalist to a moderate on almost all controversial issues may be difficult to grasp, but some readers may be most startled by what Schenck put his wife and children through during three decades of unabated activism.

An informative book that leaves the author exposed throughout as the center of attention, as opposed to God.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-268793-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

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.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

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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