A searingly honest coming-of-age memoir.



A writer and motivational speaker’s account of how she learned to embrace complex truths about her biracial ancestry that her dysfunctional family had kept hidden.

As a child, Maui native Abrams believed that her mother, Daisy, was Chinese and her father, George, was a white American. Both parents, who had come together for reasons of “desperation and addiction,” had told their daughter that her brown skin and curly hair were proof that she was Hawaiian. Their unstable union ended when Abrams was just 5 and George forced his unfaithful, alcoholic wife to leave. Growing up among white family members and in mostly white neighborhoods in California and Florida, Abrams always felt out of place. She finally learned the truth—that she had been the product of Daisy's premarital liaison with a black pilot—just before she turned 14. From that moment on, Abrams openly rebelled against her father's “oppressive regime” and binged on drugs, food, sex, and especially alcohol. At 18, she left Florida for New York to become a model. The city became a multiracial haven where she learned to love the blackness that she had negated. But alcoholism, bulimia, and a volatile temperament derailed her career aspirations and tore her personal life apart, as did two unexpected pregnancies by two different men who abused her. Despite the many complications she faced—a brief, but ultimately unhappy reunion with her Chinese mother, rejection by her Chinese relatives, and the tragic heroin-induced death of her sister—motherhood became the author’s salvation. “It was my love for them that forced me through circumstances that, had I been alone, would have caused me to give up on life,” she writes. Her ability to own her identity as a biracial woman with a troubled past is the greatest strength of this compelling narrative. Her book affirms that while personal history cannot be rewritten, an individual can always become “the author of [his or her] life.”

A searingly honest coming-of-age memoir.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4516-8846-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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