A candid, instructive memoir of self-growth.

Ahern, well-known for her award-winning gluten-free cookbooks (Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, 2013, etc.), compiles a series of essays that explore her childhood, young adulthood, marriage, and motherhood.

In her first collection, the author explores a question the doctor asked her after a stress-induced ministroke landed her in the intensive care unit. “Where in your life do you not feel good enough?” he asked. “It was the question that compelled me,” she writes, “over the next year, to start letting go of everything that didn’t bring me joy.” The first place she had to start was with her parents, particularly her mother, who suffered from panic attacks and kept Ahern’s life “entirely restricted.” As she writes, “I was not allowed to visit a friend’s house, by myself, until I was seventeen.” Her parents fought every day, but there was never a mention of therapy for anybody in the family. Ahern discusses her low self-esteem due to her body size, the difficulty of being a virgin into her mid-30s, and finding friends and building a community of people around her that made her feel safe and complete. She discusses how she and her husband wrote cookbooks and started a gluten-free flour company (an endeavor that caused extremely unhealthy levels of stress), her daughter’s difficult infancy, and her gradual easing into and acceptance of herself despite her faults. Ahern’s narrative will resonate especially with small-business owners, women who have difficult mothers, and, most of all, those who have issues with body image. “I am fifty-two years old now,” she writes. “Instead of waiting for permission to love my own body only if it is sufficiently small enough, I have surveyed what I am lucky enough to have, from my feet on the ground to the top of my head, and find joy in this body now.”

A candid, instructive memoir of self-growth.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-217-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019


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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