A deeply personal and revealing book about one woman’s attempt to find family, identity, and spiritual peace.

SEEING THE FOREST THROUGH THE TREES

A memoir of survival and New Age spirituality that encompasses three generations of a working-class Polish-American family.

After debut author Stone was born in Wisconsin during 1969’s Summer of Love, she was meant to be given up for adoption, but her mother changed her mind at the last minute. During her childhood, she says, her father was absent and her mother was undependable, so her most stable influences were her down-to-earth Polish immigrant grandparents. Although Zofie and Loosha had strictly raised their own children with an iron hand and a leather switch, according to Stone, they treated her with persistent affection during her turbulent childhood. She says that she saw her parents’ failings—including neglectful parenting and addiction—all too clearly, but she admired their free spirits even as she suffered herself. She lost her virginity at 14, and she later felt the first stirrings of attraction to women, which would define her adult identity. Meanwhile, her mother, she says, stayed with an abusive boyfriend who almost killed her. As the author struggled to end what she saw as a family cycle of self-destruction, she was buoyed by a love of writing and music; she was also drawn to holistic spiritual practices, such as reiki and meditation, which helped her gain self-awareness. Overall, Stone’s memoir is disarmingly chatty in tone; at one point, for instance, she follows up a description of an Arizona landmark with the sentence: “The entire story is quite interesting if you want to google it.” She also occasionally inserts real-time comments: “(A dove is cooing as I write this—how awesome!)” This makes for an intimate reading experience, as do her vivid descriptions of colorful figures in her life, such as Zofie, who once expressed her anger at Loosha by throwing her own false teeth at him. Occasionally, the narrative seems overly detailed, as in a long description of the legal problems that arose after Stone’s mother’s death. However, readers will remain engaged as she attempts to transcend the obstacles in her life.

A deeply personal and revealing book about one woman’s attempt to find family, identity, and spiritual peace.

Pub Date: May 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982203-98-6

Page Count: 154

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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...

NIGHT

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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