In this coming-of-age debut, plastic surgeon Youn chronicles his sometimes-harrowing journey to becoming a doctor.

The author’s father surmounted tremendous obstacles to emigrate from Korea to become an obstetrician with a thriving U.S. practice, and he had high academic expectations for his son. When he was seven years old, the author writes, his father told him, “Tony, you become a transplant surgeon.” When Youn replied that he wasn't sure he wanted to be a doctor, his father's anger was explosive and he never challenged him again. The author succeeded in gaining social acceptance among his peers in Greenville, Mich., the small, lily-white, conservative community where the family lived. He writes that he was considered to be one of the cool kids, although his success with girls was limited. But when he attended Kalamazoo College, he was excluded socially and uniformly rejected by every young woman he approached. Academically, he was on track for medical school, a transition he looked forward to with high hopes. The author writes amusingly about his expectations: “Chicks love doctors. I’m going to med school to get laid.” While that didn't prove to be the case, Youn offers amusing stories about his ineptitude with his dates; eventually, he made close friendships and ultimately met his future wife. In medical school, he had the first glimmering of a vocation for medicine, but his hospital training experiences—described in humorous detail—were hellacious. Only when he was called to assist in an operation on a child whose face had been mauled by a raccoon, and was captivated by the thrill of reconstructive surgery, did he find his true vocation as a plastic surgeon. While the author admits to taking “some comedic license,” the story of his Korean family and his struggle to find his path have greater appeal.


Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-0844-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 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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