An intimate portrait of a bittersweet father-daughter relationship.




A young journalist’s memoir chronicles her trek in search of clues to her father’s hidden life and their much-too-short relationship.

When she was 11, Loustalot’s father died from AIDS. When she was 8, her father regaled her with whimsical talk of the round-the-world trip they would take together. However, he was already infected with HIV, and the journey never became a reality. Fifteen years later, Loustalot embarked on the excursion they had planned together. “Our relationship was still alive,” she writes. “I felt trapped beneath it and all the unnatural questions he left behind. I needed to be set free. I needed to say goodbye.” Angkor Wat in Cambodia, a place her father had mentioned, became the author’s starting point; she believed that “in the far-flung places he had wanted to visit with me were the answers to him…[and] some of the answers to myself.” On her journey, Loustalot also traveled to Stockholm, where her father was a student, and her last stop was Paris, a city that meant so much to her as a little girl: “It was going to be my father’s gift to me. But how do you accept a gift from someone who isn’t here to give it to you?” Sandwiched between travel chapters, the author chronicles life in Sacramento with her mother, her father’s separate life in Santa Cruz with his lover, and, finally, her father’s decline and death. “Who or what would my father have been like if he had grown up in a community and a larger society where being gay wasn’t a bad thing?” she asks. Though she didn’t necessarily find definitive answers, her adventure makes for compelling reading.

An intimate portrait of a bittersweet father-daughter relationship.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-00520-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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