Illness memoirs from noncelebrities often get lost in the stacks. This one deserves greater attention.

THERE I AM

THE JOURNEY FROM HOPELESSNESS TO HEALING: A MEMOIR

A speaker and podcast host chronicles her excruciating battles with chronic pain—and the inability of doctors to properly address it.

In the first few chapters of her debut, Unspoken host Lindsey explores her childhood and adolescence as part of a loving Christian family in Louisiana. Though largely undramatic, her experiences are interesting enough to keep the pages turning. She stood apart from her peers in several ways: her stature (at 13, she was “six feet tall and barely a hundred pounds”), determination to remain celibate until marriage, abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and massive popularity at school, where her father was a well-loved principal. The chief attraction of the opening chapters derives from the author’s pleasing sentences, evocative of carefree youth. During her senior year in high school, she was in a serious car accident. Though her passenger and the person driving the other vehicle emerged mostly unscathed, Lindsey suffered a crushed spleen as well as a broken neck and ribs that punctured her lungs. At the hospital, doctors estimated a 5% chance of survival and 1% chance of walking again. But the author overcame the odds after spinal surgery. Less than a year later, she graduated on time and left home for college. However, both the physical and psychological pain were relentless—and amply described by Lindsey, which sometimes makes for difficult reading. After years of pain management suggested by physicians, pharmacists, dear friends, and always compassionate family members, the author finally learned the primary medical reason for the unrelenting pain. But the apparent corrective barely helped. For the remainder of the memoir, consistently readable and inspirational, Lindsey keeps readers in suspense about whether she will be able to fully enjoy her life. At the end, the author addresses readers directly and asks them to focus on healing what is broken in their own lives.

Illness memoirs from noncelebrities often get lost in the stacks. This one deserves greater attention.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0791-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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