While offering strong elements, this recollection of surviving violence and reconciling with one’s past lacks a fully...

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Other Voices

Blenman tells of persevering through a childhood of abuse to lead a Christian life in this debut memoir.

Born to a poor family in rural Barbados, Blenman endured a grueling childhood. While he was instilled early on with respect for his elders and a strong work ethic, he was also the subject of multiple forms of abuse. In addition to the corporal punishment he suffered at the hands of his short-tempered parents (his father once killed the family dog for eating from Blenman’s dinner bowl), the author was also the victim of sexual abuse from two of his sisters. Throughout his schooling, he was often beaten with a strap based on the arbitrary determinations of his teachers. In addition to documenting his abuse and the ways in which it made his life more difficult, Blenman seeks to record those people who influenced his life in a more positive way, the eponymous “other voices” whose words and advice have remained with him over the course of his life. There was Mammy, the older woman down the road who gave him sweetbreads and told him not to curse. There was Mr. Messiah, a teacher whose encouragement led to Blenman’s grades improving and ultimately winning him a scholarship. Blenman eventually moved to Canada to attend college and remains there still. While he continued to suffer trials in his adult life, he has weathered them using the lessons of his childhood. He credits his subsequent success, in part, to responding to his circumstances “in a behavioural manner that brings healing to self.” The author’s prose is capable, if not always gripping. The book is divided into short chapters that hew closely to Blenman’s memory, but they rarely provide the details that would help make the Barbados of his story come across with greater intensity. The other characters, particularly his family members, could have used a bit more exploration: they loom enigmatically at the edges of his account but never feel fully realized. The raw material of the memoir is robust, but the way it is presented does not ensure it will linger long in the reader’s mind.

While offering strong elements, this recollection of surviving violence and reconciling with one’s past lacks a fully developed narrative.

Pub Date: March 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-8549-7

Page Count: 210

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

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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