Chick-lit with zingers.

Witty, mildly raunchy memoir of a precociously perceptive child who grows into a smart and smart-mouthed adolescent.

Comedian Thyre (Late Night with Conan O’Brien; Strangers with Candy) uses caricature and exaggeration to create a funny picture of growing up in the 1970s and ’80s. At first, she’s part of a middle-class Catholic family with a quick-tempered, blue-collar father and an environmentally correct mother, but when her parents divorce, the Thyres slip down a notch or two on the economic scale. To keep up appearances, her resourceful mother resorts to reattaching the same Lacoste alligator to garment after cheap garment. Thyre derives much humor from bodily functions, writing about vomit, asthma attacks, the contents of her sibling’s diapers and feminine-hygiene products. Her youthful explorations of pornography and the mental and physical shortcomings of others provide further grist for her humor mill. She has a sharp ear for dialogue and a keen eye for the slights and cruelties that children and adolescents blithely inflict on each other and on the adults around them. Her wit turns what might, in other hands, have been a self-pitying memoir into a bright, amusing story. When shit happens—her father is disappointingly indifferent to her needs, the family vacation ends disastrously—Thyre doesn’t bemoan the situation. Rather, she reports it with zest and a twist of wry.

Chick-lit with zingers.

Pub Date: April 3, 2007

ISBN: 1-58243-359-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007


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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