SUICIDE

LIVING WITH THE QUESTION

Maxwell (Eighteen Roses Red, 2006, etc.) revisits her son’s suicide and her subsequent grieving process.

When her 35-year-old son, Bill, committed suicide in 1989, Maxwell was shocked. Bill was seemingly happy and healthy. Married to a woman he loved, the father of two small children and engaged in a promising career, he was someone whom Maxwell felt had “found his place in life.” Maxwell recalls the days and weeks after Bill’s death with a mixture of palpable grief, journalistic detail and wisdom gained from the passage of time. As she carries on in the face of this almost unbearable loss, and as her family participates in the rituals associated with saying goodbye, Maxwell scours Bill’s life for signs of suffering that the family may have overlooked. She catches glimpses of Bill’s distress, including the haunting detail that an 8-year-old Bill told his younger brother he wanted to kill himself. One of the most intriguing aspects of the book is in how Bill’s wife, Laura, his children and his siblings navigate how to preserve and honor his memory. In the final chapters, Maxwell explores depression and suicide directly, drawing from extensive readings and her family’s experience. She concludes that societal attitudes toward suicide—described as “moralistic” and “superstitious”—are not only wrong but damaging. Her final advice to grieving readers: “Be willing to live with the unanswered questions and with your grief.” Time has provided Maxwell with the clarity to assess her grieving, but this memoir will be most comforting to those recently unmoored by a loss. This unusually thoughtful, considered memoir will be valuable and inspirational to readers who have lost a loved one to suicide.  

 

Pub Date: March 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468555929

Page Count: 124

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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