A wholly inspiring portrait of an extraordinary immigrant family.



Homage to an indomitable woman and her remarkable journey.

CNN anchor Asher makes her book debut with a vibrant memoir of her “tough-love” immigrant family, headed by her resolute mother—“breadwinner, nurturer, disciplinarian, cook, cleaner”—who instilled in her children a “succeed-at-all-costs” mentality. Obiajulu Ejiofor and her husband, Arinze, moved from Nigeria to London in the 1970s, having survived a brutal civil war and a two-year famine. While Arinze pursued a medical degree, Obiajulu enrolled in the pharmacy program at the University of London. When she graduated, the couple obtained a loan to open their own pharmacy, a business that supported them and their children. In 1988, however, tragedy struck: While Arinze and their 11-year old son, Chiwetel, were visiting Nigeria, they were involved in a horrific automobile accident; Arinze was killed and Chiwetel, severely injured. As an immigrant in South London, with three children and pregnant with a fourth, Obiajulu faced a daunting future. But despite her grief, she made an unwavering commitment to raise her children to become “ambitious, talented, and disciplined.” Chiwetel is an Oscar-nominated actor; the author’s sister is a physician; another brother is a successful businessman. For Obiajulu, education was paramount. To make sure her children were well prepared for their assignments, Obiajulu devoted every evening to study sessions, and she gave the children reading lists and quizzed them on their comprehension. When 9-year-old Asher seemed to be floundering, her mother sent her back to Nigeria for two years, where children showed adults “unquestioned obedience.” She hung photos of famous Nigerians around the house to serve as role models. When the children were distracted by TV, she sliced the cable. To keep them from wasting time on phone calls with friends, she installed a pay phone. Refusing to be undermined by poverty and racism, Obiajulu, writes the author, “fought with every fiber of her being for her family.” Asher delivers a well-written chronicle of absolute determination and familial devotion.

A wholly inspiring portrait of an extraordinary immigrant family.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304883-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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