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 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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