A haunting story with a triumphant conclusion.


Touching glimpse of a young life nearly lost and then redeemed.

In this brief but powerful memoir, film producer and novelist Halberstadt (The Pianist in the Dark, 2011) examines the day, at the age of 12, when she attempted suicide. The book opens with that fateful morning, as the young Parisian girl takes all the pills she can find in the cupboard, then goes to school, waiting to die. The bulk of the narrative explores the incidents leading up to her decision, while the ending relates events in the hours and days after she awoke in the hospital, her plan having only barely gone awry. Halberstadt’s story is a gripping work of psychological introspection, following the traumas and travails of a girl too ordinary to be noticed, yet too brilliant to fully accept that anonymity. As she saw herself, the author was the plain-looking, boring daughter of a good but distant father and thoroughly strict mother. She paled in comparison to her older, beautiful, charming, talented sister, who lorded that superiority over her. Only one person, her grandfather, cared about and understood her. When he died, all she wanted to do was join him. Distant and uncaring, her family tolerated her at best, verbally abused her at worst, until she felt the best thing she could do for everyone involved was to go away. After her suicide attempt failed, however, Halberstadt experienced a sudden rebirth, deciding to live and flourish. The author tells her story passionately, often in short, chopped sentences that underscore the import and weight of her preteen thoughts. She is matter-of-fact rather than melodramatic, giving the readers a sense of the resignation and alienation she felt as a girl.

A haunting story with a triumphant conclusion.

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59051-531-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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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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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

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