A simple, straightforward story that successfully captures the complexities of growing up under the shadow of cancer.

JUST DON’T FALL

HOW I GREW UP, CONQUERED ILLNESS, AND MADE IT DOWN THE MOUNTAIN

From Paralympic skier Sundquist, an absorbing debut memoir about conquering nearly insurmountable odds.

At the age of nine, the author was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg at the hip. While he endured the unimaginable—the loss of a limb, a year-long stint of chemotherapy and the possibility that his cancer had returned—his narrative covers events that will be surprisingly familiar to most. His intimate encounters with cancer and its life-altering consequences form the backbone, but the story is really about a boy becoming a man, experiencing the trials, insecurities, rejections, triumphs and transformative realizations. Sundquist chronicles his diagnosis, surgery and treatment; he enumerates his fears, which have less to do with his amputation and being “normal” and more to do with meeting girls, making friends and finding purpose; he discusses the transformation of his family over the years, particularly that of his brother; he articulates the evolution of his faith. Compellingly, the author’s voice matures along with his childhood and adolescent self. Sundquist’s account of his battle with cancer and subsequent quest for the Paralympic ski team gives insight into a boy’s raw, honest experience as it occurs; the reader experiences the author’s boyhood as he did. The beginning is a little rocky, providing little exposition or context, but the author quickly reaches a steady stride that will keep readers transfixed.

A simple, straightforward story that successfully captures the complexities of growing up under the shadow of cancer.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-670-02146-8

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2009

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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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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