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A must-read for disabled readers seeking inspiration for their dreams, and will hold the interest—and crush the excuses—of...

The impressive story of a woman who will eventually be duly recognized as a pioneer in disabled athletics.

Reinertsen, whom readers may recognize from her 2006 appearance on The Amazing Race, was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency in her left leg—“a shortened leg bone that’ll never grow.” At age seven, she had part of it amputated so she could use a prosthetic that provided greater mobility. The author—assisted by veteran ghostwriter Goldsher (co-author: Dancing to the Music in My Head: Memoirs of the People’s Idol, 2009, etc.)—credits much of her success to the insistence of her parents, both from Norwegian immigrant families, on treating her like a normal kid. Throughout, her mother is depicted as an endless source of support. Although her father’s abuse and extramarital affair kept the family in therapy for nearly a decade, he provided a modicum of assistance by seeking out Reinertsen’s eventual role model, amputee marathoner Paddy Rossbach, at a race near their home in Long Island. Twelve-year-old Reinertsen marveled at Rossbach’s grace and speed, and saw that a “normal,” fulfilled life was possible for amputees. The author similarly inspires readers with her story, if one can consider her extraordinary experiences normal: world records for above-knee amputee women in the 100- and 200-meter races, the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona, multiple academic degrees, the Ironman in Hawaii (she was the first woman to complete it on an artificial leg), interviewing Olympic stars in one of several TV-production gigs and climbing the Great Wall of China on a hit reality show. Though the compelling content occasionally descends into the clichéd prose of many commercial inspirational memoirs—with lazy adjectives like “insane amped-ness” and “moving/amazing/incredible”—Reinertsen’s vulnerability and ebullience have a way of sneaking through in passages about intimacy with her first boyfriend (when should she take the leg off?) and how her emotional Ironman triumph helped heal her family.

A must-read for disabled readers seeking inspiration for their dreams, and will hold the interest—and crush the excuses—of those training for marathons and triathlons.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7627-5143-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Globe Pequot

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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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

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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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