Entertaining fluff.

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PSYCHIC JUNKIE

A MEMOIR

Just when you’d think memoirs couldn’t get more self-parodying, a first-time author spills all about her obsession with psychics.

Lassez, a sometimes-employed actress in L.A., turns to psychics to determine if she’ll ever land a big role, or a man. Though these seers are only occasionally accurate, and then only about the most obvious things, she gets hooked. Her self-styled “addiction” is really just a conceit that allows her to ramble on about life as a broke, 30-year-old singleton in Hollywood. She could have transformed the one-dimensional palaver into something a bit more substantial had she been willing to offer even a little self-scrutiny. In passing, Lassez mentions an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder diagnosis and scoring some free Zoloft from the wife of a doctor, but the closest she ever comes to examining her fixation with tarot is wondering, “When would I land the role of ‘Sarah Lassez,’ a woman with a life?” Fortunately, the silly subject matter is redeemed by the author’s self-deprecating sensibility and deadpan humor. Lassez’s ruminations about an engagement ring that is never offered, her description of a week spent rehabbing at her parents’ ranch and her transcription of the one lone therapy session she attends are hilarious. She manages never to take herself too seriously—an important quality in a narrator who is constantly kvetching about being dumped. When told by her shrink to join a 12-step group, Lassez admits that she’s looked into it already, but there is no Psychics Anonymous: “If I was lucky enough to be addicted to heroin I’d be at a meeting right now.” Further bolstering the book’s oddball charm is a likable cast of supporting characters. Readers may turn the last page wishing they could hang out with Lassez’s best friend Gina, who deserves an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Creative Nonfiction.

Entertaining fluff.

Pub Date: July 11, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-1838-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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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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