The utterly absorbing story of a woman's struggle to care for her mentally ill mother, tracing the ravages of mental illness on both the sufferer and her family. Dawn Elgin, Holley's mother, a beautiful and gifted singer, was launching a career in Hollywood when she was suddenly struck down by schizophrenia in her early 20s. She was frequently hospitalized, and the author, then six years old, was sent to live with her caring, if authoritarian, great-aunt in Houston. Dawn's Christian Scientist parents and her sisters largely denied her illness; for her part, the author fantasized constantly about her mother. They were finally reunited when Holley was 11. While she hoped that Dawn would again be her glamorous old self, the reality of her mother's decline mocked such wishes: ``She wore what looked to me like baggy old-women's clothes, a bulky brown jacket and a shapeless dress . . . eyes lowered, she looked up now and then as if expecting someone to hit her.'' From adolescence on, through college, marriage (to a husband who at first knew almost nothing about mental illness), and the birth of two children, Holley struggled to find the best care for Dawn. Holley fought to keep relating to the human being, and the mother, underneath the disease that often made Dawn the prisoner of inner voices. She (and in an epilogue, her husband, a former editor of Texas Monthly) deftly teaches us a great deal about schizophrenia, particularly about the isolation, humiliation, and stigmatization the mentally ill still suffer. Yet this highly evocative, moving memoir is less about a terrible illness than it is about a highly unusual, in some ways tortured, but also tremendously strong, daughter-mother relationship. The bond is marked by ambivalence, conflict, suffering—and a daughter's impressive commitment to staying connected to, and caring for, a mother whom she has in some sense lost.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-13368-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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