A raw and impassioned account of the making of a young feminist.

From Bangladesh-born writer, doctor, and death fatwa recipient, a searing account of growing up in a dysfunctional family beleaguered by religious intolerance.

Colorful details of food and landscape offer some relief in an otherwise grim tale of unhappiness and fanaticism. Nasrin’s story begins in the early 1970s as her family flees their provincial home for refuge with relatives in the countryside. Her country, the former east Pakistan, is fighting, with India’s help, to gain independence from west Pakistan. After the war, in the newly independent Bangladesh, Nasrin, born in 1962, describes her family: two older brothers and a younger sister; her parents (her father, a farmer’s son, became a doctor and married the daughter of the man who helped him financially); and her maternal grandparents (a spendthrift dictatorial grandfather and a grandmother determined to save money and food for her family). The writing is personal and understandably angry, although this is its weakness, since Nasrin seems to imply—without giving any wider context for readers to judge by—that the horrors she details are universal: her sexual abuse by two uncles when she was five and seven; beatings by her father; her mother’s increasingly erratic behavior; and the arranged marriages of talented school friends to much older men. Nasrin attributes her growing feminism and religious skepticism to what she observes on entering adolescence: a mother who had dreamed of going to college but became a religious zealot, reviling education and women’s rights (although, paradoxically, her father is determined that Nasrin be educated); her father’s philandering; her mother’s cruel treatment of female servants; hypocritical men who use religion to abuse and confine women; the Faithful, who discount all scientific knowledge; and limited freedom for women (a walk along the river ends in an assault). By 14, Nasrin had become critical of her family, her country, and her faith.

A raw and impassioned account of the making of a young feminist.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58642-051-8

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Steerforth

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002


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



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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