A powerful testimony to the determination and strength necessary to persevere despite assumptions, scrutiny, and societal...

A woman stricken with polio-borne limitations shares her physical and emotional challenges.

By the time she was 4, Lambert (The River’s Memory, 2014) required two surgeries and two body casts. In this memoir, she retraces the years when the struggle against loneliness and isolation at times became more disabling than polio’s assault on her spine and legs. With frank, lyrical prose, the author describes a painful, awkward youth in Norway as she became reliant on the bracing “contraption put on my legs at night that was supposed to untwist my bones.” Once her military family relocated back to America, she sought solace alone on the forest floor beneath a canopy of foliage and refracted sunlight. Lambert chronicles her high school years trying to appear “normal,” whatever that word means, and also delicately addresses the dual struggle of her physical disability coupled with her emerging sexuality and a reliance on alcohol to calm the residual anger, bitterness, and depression experienced after a relationship deteriorated. Lambert describes uncomfortable incidents in her 30s—e.g., navigating a public laundry facility where gawking, intrusive onlookers called her “so inspiring” or the ordeal of boarding a packed airplane. “There’s a mute button in my head for these moments,” writes the author. “I push it.” More positive events include the author’s camping trips in Florida and kayaking in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Lambert makes beautifully palpable the exquisite liberation she finally experienced when exchanging her braces and crutches for a manual (and then automatic) wheelchair. Each of these recollections is unhurriedly told and expressed with true introspection; the author knows herself well and shares thoughts, feelings, and impressions with grace and acute self-awareness. Readers will come away with a cleareyed portrait of the author through the stories of her joys, sorrows, and intimate impressions.

A powerful testimony to the determination and strength necessary to persevere despite assumptions, scrutiny, and societal stigmatization.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4962-0719-7

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018



The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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