Valuable as both moral testimonial and as a medical memoir and sure to inspire heat as well as light.

“I believe that as an abortion provider I am doing God’s work”—a small but insistent red flag waved in the face of an angry political opposition.

A fundamentalist Christian as an African-American youth in the Deep South, Parker had a road-to-Damascus moment when he “became enraptured with the idea of God’s radical, egalitarian love”—though, he adds, it took him time to sort through a lifetime of biblical literalism to gauge that while Scripture might be the work of God, it is also the work of a patriarchal culture in which men call the shots. As his medical practice with plenty of elements of ministry developed, Parker became an activist in defending women’s reproductive rights up to and including abortion, which has put him squarely in the path of a well-funded, powerful anti-abortion lobby. Some of this book is polemical, some an aspirational memoir that speaks of his hard struggle to achieve a medical education in the face of institutional resistance: “Poor children…are raised without a clear sense of their own horizons,” he writes, “but rather with a systematic suppression of possibility, and a literal lack of access to pragmatic information about how successful people get things done.” The polemical portion of the program is generally modestly argued, without much in the way of inflammatory rhetoric, though Parker is fully aware of what he’s up against; the 2009 murder of his friend and colleague George Tiller, as he recounts, was a pointed reminder, but not the first. Throughout, Parker writes without irony on the depth and authenticity of his own Christian belief, which he insists allows for his medical practice, especially as a means of providing health care to underprivileged women.

Valuable as both moral testimonial and as a medical memoir and sure to inspire heat as well as light.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5112-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: 37 Ink/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


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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