An honest, loving account of losing someone and finding them again.

THE LAST DAY OF REGRET

Diaz reflects on the death of his sister Hannah in this debut Christian memoir.

Diaz’s sister Hannah was five years his junior, and though they got along well enough as children, by the time Hannah was 24, Diaz was only speaking to her indirectly, using his mother or his wife as an intermediary. “Some people are givers, and some are takers,” explains the author, who had three young children at the time demanding his full emotional attention. “My sister was a taker, and my solution was to stop giving. It was Hannah’s world, and the rest of us were just living in it.” A challenging personality since the age of 14 and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at 20, Hannah had spent years drinking, taking drugs, having promiscuous sex, overeating, and self-harming. Not long after yet another spat and tentative reconciliation, Diaz got a voice message from his mother: “Her lips are blue. Come quick.” At first Diaz suspected suicide, but as more facts emerged, the truth of Hannah’s death became unclear. This book represents Diaz’s attempt to find closure in his relationship with his sister. In it, he records the difficulties—and triumphs—of her brief life, interrogating his own mistakes and interpreting the events according to his Christian faith. What emerges is an exploration of regret: both the regret Diaz feels for things he did or did not do and the regrets that plagued Hannah in the final years of her life. Diaz’s prose is imbued with the grief, remorse, empathy, and frustration that one would expect as he recalls the tumultuous nature of his relationship with his sister: “I don’t think I blatantly ignored her as a form of malice. I was doing my best not to respond negatively, but I just ended up not responding at all.” While this sometimes rises to a level of saccharine, the narration is generally grounded and conversational. He approaches the subject with humility, and he manages to portray Hannah in a surprisingly sympathetic light. Diaz sees every tragedy as an opportunity to learn from God—a perspective that seems to serve him well. There may be similar memoirs with more polished narrative structures, but the sincerity that pervades Diaz’s book does much to buoy its emotional impact.

An honest, loving account of losing someone and finding them again.

Pub Date: March 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973657-42-2

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

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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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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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