A funny, frank and hopeful memoir of middle age.

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THE MADWOMAN IN THE VOLVO

MY YEAR OF RAGING HORMONES

A writer and syndicated radio host’s no-holds-barred account of how she survived the rigors of midlife crisis and menopause.

When Atlantic contributing editor Loh (Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting!, 2008, etc.) reached her late 40s, the stability and rationality that had characterized her world suddenly vanished. Feeling vaguely trapped by a staid marriage, she made a “prison break” with an equally bored married man into what she thought was the freedom of an affair. The result was a messy divorce and an even messier period of regrouping. But Loh’s malaise persisted and began to manifest as physical symptoms—including bloating, weight gain and rapidly shifting moods—she could neither explain nor completely control. With candor and attitude to spare, the author chronicles how she navigated the unexpected transformations that occur in all midlife women. Determined to find a way to endure “the change” with her sanity intact, she explored everything from best-selling books about finding happiness to hip new exercise trends like Kettlebelling. But sometimes even her best efforts were not enough. As she tried to cope with her unsettling physical and emotional changes, she also had to deal with other volatile situations. One was her two daughters’ transitions into adolescence and immersion into “the peculiar horrors of Facebook.” The other was her eccentric octogenarian father’s decision to marry a younger woman he thought would take care of him but who would eventually be diagnosed with a severe case of dementia. Loh observes that late baby boomer/early Gen-X women like Madonna, Oprah and Demi Moore have helped remove the stigma associated with “the change” and shown that menopause can be a time of female empowerment rather than hysterical helplessness. Humbled and changed from the inside out, Loh still celebrates menopause as a brand of wisdom revealing “this chore wheel called modern life” for the sham it is.

A funny, frank and hopeful memoir of middle age.

Pub Date: May 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-393-08868-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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