Readers will be happily lost in this lively, engrossing book about home and family.

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TOCO

TALES TOLD THROUGH THE EYES OF A SMALL BOY GROWING UP IN THE COUNTRYSIDE OF TRINIDAD WI IN THE 30'S & 40'S

Jack’s debut collection weaves together spirited vignettes recalling his boyhood in Trinidad.

For Gabriel, Jack’s fictional stand-in, there’s no such thing as small beginnings. His recollections come from the years he lives in Toco, a small village on Trinidad, during the second world war. Toco’s remoteness prevents Gabriel from focusing too much on European scuffles, though. While raucous soldiers add an exciting new element to village life, they’re largely seen as a curiosity; there are plenty of more interesting occurrences in these far-from-bucolic island days. A mix of superstition, Caribbean Christianity and island traditions shapes Gabriel’s understanding of the world, turning seemingly normal life events into exhilarating, sometimes harrowing affairs. Zombies, ghosts, ancient village charms, the Obeah man’s visits—he’s a kind of witch doctor—and charismatic priests imbue these stories with an entrancing flavor, while hardscrabble daily requirements, from fetching river water to curing meat for dinner, aren’t described as burdensome tasks but spirit endeavors. Undaunted by daily challenges, he maintains innocence and hopefulness, both of which enable him to make declarations and list dreams bound to awaken nostalgia. There are other mountains to climb, hummingbirds to snatch out of midair, lighthouses to ascend and girls to charm. Readers will enjoy watching Gabriel grow into a young man, and when a rupture in family life forces him to leave Toco behind, readers may find themselves sharing in his dismay. Jack, a skillful writer, capably relates island parlance while injecting his tales with affecting color and passion, not to mention a few black-and-white illustrations. Most of the stories successfully fit together, and Jack’s proclaimed goal to relate what life was like in rural Trinidad in the ’30s and ’40s has been achieved.

Readers will be happily lost in this lively, engrossing book about home and family.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479731640

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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BECOMING

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...

NIGHT

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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