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The highly expressive narrative is often brutal and raw, a combination of truth and penance, and it feels like a confession...

A performer and playwright looks back on her dysfunctional adolescence and her decision to run away from home.

Living in a small town with her unsupportive mother, stepfather, siblings, and stepsiblings was just not working for Marquardt, so, at the age of 16, while her mother was out of the house, she packed her bags, called a cab, and left. This was the start of two tumultuous years during which she lived on the couches of friends, shared bedrooms with others, and lived part of the time with her father. She continued to attend school and to write whenever she could, a habit that projected her into the acting and writing world, while also smoking cigarettes obsessively and getting blackout drunk whenever possible. She entered the goth scene in Vancouver and hung out at bars and dance clubs, where she was exposed to the seedier side of life; S&M was common in the basement hangout she frequented with her group of loyal friends. Marquardt’s tale is gritty and sordid, full of vivid details that make palpable the experiences of a teenage girl searching for her place in the world. She spares little as she describes the physical and verbal abuse she endured and the fear, anger, and confusion caused by her family and others. “I loved to write, and Mom’s rejection of such a raw and exposed part of me was worse that if she’d slapped me,” writes the author, “and like a fuel to a fire, it caused a rage that burned inside my belly….[W]hen confronted with a need that contradicted hers, or with emotional turmoil that she couldn’t control, she shut off.” Marquardt also skillfully communicates her desires and dreams as she approached adulthood.

The highly expressive narrative is often brutal and raw, a combination of truth and penance, and it feels like a confession leading toward sanity and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-4916-4

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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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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