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1. Running with Scissors: A Memoir
$8.21 $5.00 list($10.95)
2. The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's
$10.46 $6.75 list($13.95)
3. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
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4. My Fathers' Houses : Memoir of
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5. The Language of Baklava : A Memoir
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6. On Hitler's Mountain : Overcoming
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7. First They Killed My Father :
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8. A Brother's Journey : Surviving
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9. Waiting for Snow in Havana : Confessions
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10. Magical Mystery Tours : My Life
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11. Faded Pictures from My Backyard
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12. The Amorous Busboy of Decatur
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13. Persepolis : The Story of a Childhood
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14. Too Close to the Falls
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15. The Privilege of Youth: A Teenager's
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16. Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger
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17. Where Rivers Change Direction
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18. Please Stop Laughing at Me: One
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19. The Unwanted: A Memoir of Childhood
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20. Charred Souls: A Story of Recreational

1. Running with Scissors: A Memoir
by Augusten Burroughs
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 031242227X
Catlog: Book (2003-06-01)
Publisher: Picador
Sales Rank: 317
Average Customer Review: 3.93 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

There is a passage early in Augusten Burroughs's harrowing and highly entertaining memoir, Running with Scissors, that speaks volumes about the author. While going to the garbage dump with his father, young Augusten spots a chipped, glass-top coffee table that he longs to bring home. "I knew I could hide the chip by fanning a display of magazines on the surface, like in a doctor's office," he writes, "And it certainly wouldn't be dirty after I polished it with Windex for three hours." There were certainly numerous chips in the childhood Burroughs describes: an alcoholic father, an unstable mother who gives him up for adoption to her therapist, and an adolescence spent as part of the therapist's eccentric extended family, gobbling prescription meds and fooling around with both an old electroshock machine and a pedophile who lives in a shed out back. But just as he dreamed of doing with that old table, Burroughs employs a vigorous program of decoration and fervent polishing to a life that many would have simply thrown in a landfill. Despite her abandonment, he never gives up on his increasingly unbalanced mother. And rather than despair about his lot, he glamorizes it: planning a "beauty empire" and performing an a capella version of "You Light Up My Life" at a local mental ward. Burroughs's perspective achieves a crucial balance for a memoir: emotional but not self-involved, observant but not clinical, funny but not deliberately comic. And it's ultimately a feel-good story: as he steers through a challenging childhood, there's always a sense that Burroughs's survivor mentality will guide him through and that the coffee table will be salvaged after all. --John Moe ... Read more

Reviews (279)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book kicks a**..!
...in the words of the ubiquitous Cartman (South Park). Augusten Burroughs' memoir about growing up in apparently the most dysfunctional place in the Universe, is brilliant, if somewhat surreal.

Burroughs relates his childhood with his mother, who may or may not be insane, and the cast of bizarre characters that inhabit his world. Like a strange episode of "The Twilight Zone", "Running With Scissors" is at once engaging and horrifying. I had to keep reminding myself throughout that it wasn't fiction, that Burroughs had actually experienced the drama as he told it. With a wry sense of humor that's prevalent all the way through, Burroughs manages to depict the horror of his life without slipping into maudlin self-pity. An excellent read...and I hope there's a sequel!

4-0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, disturbing, funny, and a lot of other things
Augusten Burroughs' memoir can make you laugh, cry, and retch in various combinations. Strange and disturbing don't adequately describe Burroughs' childhood. Being raised until pre-adolescence with an alcoholic father, a bipolar mother, and a brother with Asperger's certainly did much to shape Burroughs' life, but his teenage years spent in the house of Dr. Finch, surely one of the strangest characters ever to be described in a book, constituted the bizaare formative period that gave birth to this memoir. In the Finch house, Burroughs experienced things far removed from the realm of normal childhood including pedophilia courtesy of Dr. Finch's mentally disturbed adopted son and a disgusting ritual involving retrieving Dr. Finch's stool from the toilet to be examined for divine messages. It's hard to believe that characters that would more likely arise from some imaginative writer's mind exist in real life. Thankfully, Burroughs reminds us that at least a few can emerge enlightened and successful from such twisted childhoods.

My only criticism is that I felt the book's narrative flow was interrupted at the end when the author began jumping from story to story without going into enough depth with each one. Maybe he just ran out of interesting things to say. However, that's really my only criticism. The memoir is great. You'll most probably look back on your childhood with a more forgiving eye after reading about Burroughs'.

5-0 out of 5 stars The memoirs do have it this year
The memoirs do have it this year, and "Running With Scissors" is no exception. It details a troubled life, addictions and the turning point (the determinationa nd courage) to turn your life around when it would be so much easier to fall in to the pitts. <br /> This authors other books: "Dry" and now "Magical Thinking" are excellent books to read as well. he is a superb writer. Along those lines of good memoirs/Biographies to sink your teeth in to and learn about the real world and what goes on with in it (wether rich or poor) are books such as "Nightmares Echo", "If I Knew Then" and Sickened". All highly rated books <br />

5-0 out of 5 stars Humourous and yet....
Yes this author tells his story with humor. But, underneath the laughter lies the pain of living through a difficult childhood. Mr. Burroughs did well in telling us his story in 'DRY',and as with 'DRY', you still know the life he led that took him through the addictions he suffered. It made me understand all the more another book I read called 'NIGHTMARES ECHO'. In that book the author details that though you see the addict,prostitute and homeless person-don't just assume they want to live life that way. There may be underlying reasons. Mr. Burroughs points that out as well in showing us his side of the story and the pain along with his humor. One of the best books I have read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Awful!
Worst book I've read in a long time, or does it count if you only get halfway through before using it as kindling? I can't believe people actually compare this guy to David Sedaris. I can't believe it was on several top ten lists in 2002. I can't belive I wasted $15 on this. Not only did it not make me laugh once, but I didn't care for any of the characters whatsoever. And I wouldn't consider myself to be homophobic (Sedaris is gay and he's one of my favorite writers) but I really didn't need to hear about Burroughs' "anal excursions" as a teenager which is about the point where I stopped reading the book altogether. ... Read more


2. The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family
by Dave Pelzer
list price: $10.95
our price: $8.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1558745157
Catlog: Book (1997-08-01)
Publisher: HCI
Sales Rank: 1555
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Imagine a young boy who has never had a loving home. His only possesions are the old, torn clothes he carries in a paper bag. The only world he knows is one of isolation and fear. Although others had rescued this boy from his abusive alcoholic mother, his real hurt is just begining -- he has no place to call home.

This is Dave Pelzer's long-awaited sequel to A Child Called "It". In The Lost Boy, he answers questions and reveals new adventures through the compelling story of his life as an adolescent. Now considered an F-Child (Foster Child), Dave is moved in and out of five different homes. He suffers shame and experiences resentment from those who feel that all foster kids are trouble and unworthy of being loved just because they are not part of a "real" family.

Tears, laughter, devastation and hope create the journey of this little lost boy who searches desperately for just one thing -- the love of a family.

... Read more

Reviews (319)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing
After reading A Child Called It, I of course, had to read Lost Boy. Though, I was very happy to see David got away from his mother, I was more compelled to learn that the school system got involved, finally! Being in foster care itself, can't be a easy task, i.e. living out of a paper sack with the only prized possessions he ever owned, but not knowing from moment to moment if you are going to be pulled out of that home. This book is one of those books that you just can't put down, you have to turn the page to see how David pulls through each situation. Don't pick up this book if you don't have a few hours to spend starting and finishing this book. It is a MUST read! I have purchased A Man Named Dave and have begun to read it. This series is compelling!

5-0 out of 5 stars Dave is Inspiring to All
The Lost Boy is the most beautiful book I have ever read. It tells about his life from the ages of 12 to 18 as a foster child. It is the long awaited sequal to the book A Child Called 'It.' A book so intreguing, it was literally impossible to put down. This book is Pelzer's moving sequel. It deals with child abuse and how he survived. He takes you through his five diffrent foster families during his adolesent years. Pelzer tells about his desperate dtermination to find the love of a family and a child's dream of 'fitting-in.' While reading The Lost Boy, you will experiance an uproar of emotions. It will make you cry and at the same time it will make you mad. Then when you least suspect it, you will be crying and cheering for Dave. Dave is living proof that abusive cycles can be broken. He is an inspiration to us all. It would be an honor to hear this wonderful man speak.

1-0 out of 5 stars Peddling bogus melodrama for a profit
This 'memoir' ought to be labeled trash fiction. Hasn't anyone read the New York Times article tracing Dave's childhood and examining the inconsistencies in his books? He peddles these books at 'conferences' in order to keep his name on the NYT Bestseller list - which is NOT an evaluation of the merit and literary value of any particular book, but just shows the general ignorance of today's reader.

I'm embarrassed for the readers who actually believe the pages of rubbish. It's a sad state when books like these continue to garner attention and prey on poor innocent readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I really liked the book "The Lost Boy" and read it after I finished a "Child Called It." I cried in many parts of this book and enjoyed reading it very much. If you have read "A Child Called It" (and enjoyed it) I would highly recommend you read "The Lost Boy." The book was mainly about how Dave Pelzer was moving to different foster homes, his problems fitting in, and his constant fear of his mother.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brought me to tears again
This book was just as good as "A Child Called It"

What David Pelzer went through is unspeakable. I can not even formulate it into words, but to say, no child should go through what he went through.

At the end of the book there was light at the end of the tunnel, he became an adult an enlisted in the Armed Forces. I will read "A Man Called Dave" to see how his life unfolded.

Later.... ... Read more


3. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight : An African Childhood
by ALEXANDRA FULLER
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375758992
Catlog: Book (2003-03-11)
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 1448
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time. ... Read more

Reviews (106)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, funny insight into post-colonial Africa
What makes this book worth reading -- aside from a captivating style and humorous content -- is precisely what separates it from other excellent books about similar subject matter (Godwin's Mukiwa, Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions): the fact that Fuller makes no attempt to analyze, excuse, or explain the racism and insanity of her family history. Rather than rationalizing her parents' racist attitudes, Fuller chooses instead to simply describe in her wry, matter-of-fact voice precisely how the end of the colonial era was experienced by people implicated in it. She does not try to gloss her childhood experiences with politically correct hindsight, and in so doing thrusts the reader into the desperation and the joy of rural African life in the last three decades. Bobo's mother is one of the most memorable and remarkable personalities I've encountered in African literature. The book is worth reading entirely for its hysterical concluding scenes. Fuller's characters are real and human, in all their extraordinary bizarreness!

Having spent many an hour, like Bobo Fuller, poking grass into ant-lion holes in the hot dusty veld, this moving story captivated me and painted a moving portrait of people fighting the cruelty of the African landscape. Myth and reality are intertwined in a witty and beautiful story. Everyone should read this book!

3-0 out of 5 stars A different perspective
It was interesting to read a book about life in Africa, from the perspective of a white woman brought up in a family who clung fiercely to the notion of white supremacy with every last bit of their strength. I disagree with a previous reviewer, however, who seemed to excuse the racism of the Fuller parents by implying that the historic and political situation they were in "made" them that way. Racism is racism, no matter what the circumstance.

Despite the attitudes of the Fuller parents, their daughter Bobo has documented a well-written account of their life in various African countries, and provides vivid details about the smells, sights, and emotions that the continent evokes for her. Her writing really gives the reader a sense of both the incredible harshness and danger(poisonous snakes, itchy vegetation, scary militaristic governments, etc) of Africa, but also its gentleness and great beauty.

Although I think Alexandra Fuller writes very well, and I appreciate her honest writing about her parents' behavior and attitudes, I couldn't warm to the family. Despite their numerous trajedies and troubles, I found it difficult to feel sympathetic. In contrast, when I read "The Flame Trees of Thika", another memoir of an African childhood by another white woman, Elspeth Huxley, I rooted for her colonial, turn-of-the-century, white-is-right parents, Robin and Tilly, through all their successes and setbacks. They held the same attitude of racial superiority as the Fullers, yet there is something intrinsically more likeable about how they handled themselves on a continent where they were the minority race, political upheaval or no. After reading Fuller's memoir, it was a relief to pick up "Nervous Conditions" by black female Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga, and read about three-dimensional black Africans. Her book is set in 1960s Rhodesia, for those interested (A. Fuller recommends it herself in the Afterword section of her memoir). Despite my personal reaction to this book, I recommend it to anyone interested in African writing, because I think that Alexandra Fuller's perspective is just as important and valid as that of any other African writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo
A wonderful insight into the mind of a child and a precise memoir of life itself. Life isn't straightforward and simple, yet we survive, thrive and love, even in the most difficult situations. Ms. Fuller: You said it all and you said it well.

1-0 out of 5 stars Just meanders . . .
I read this book for my book club. It just seemed to meander through her childhood, no real plot or climax. Yes, this girl definitely had a different type of childhood, but what makes it that interesting or significant?????

5-0 out of 5 stars A very different childhood
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller is an extraordinary memoir of growing up white in war ravaged Africa. Alexandra, called Bobo by her family, was born in 1969 in England. Her parents moved the family to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1972. Always suffering from "bad, bad luck", which included losing three children, the family moves from farm to farm within Rhodesia and Malawi.

Fuller's writing style is rich, lyrical and many times, funny. I could picture the land, feel the heat and smell the smoking fish that embodies the Africa she describes. I found myself laughing even as I was shaking my head in disbelief at some of the choices her parents made. Bobo's mother, Nicola Fuller, is racist, resilient, strong and mad as a hatter. In other words, she's the most memorable character in the book.

Of course, to Fuller all of this stress and strife was, while not exactly normal, expected. She was a child, after all, and it's all she'd ever known. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think that American kids really have no idea how hard their life could be.

Overall a captivating read. It left me reminiscing about my childhood and reflecting on how simple and uncomplicated (read boring) it was. ... Read more


4. My Fathers' Houses : Memoir of a Family
by Steven Roberts
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
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Asin: 0060739932
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 6522
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Book Description

Bayonne prepared me well for a larger life and a larger world. I knew who I was and where I was from. I was connected by innumerable little cords to people and places that gave me strength and identity. On The Block I was safe, secure, loved. I even had a number, 174, the address of our house, but the number wasn't a badge of anonymity. To the contrary, it marked my place, where I belonged.

As moving as Russell Baker's Growing Up and Calvin Trillin's Messages from My Father, My Fathers' Houses is the story of a town, a time, and a boy who would grow up to become a New York Times correspondent, television and radio personality, and bestselling author.

In this remarkable memoir, Steven V. Roberts tells the story of his grandparents, his parents, and his own life, vividly bringing a period, a place, and a remarkable family into focus. The period was the forties and fifties, when the children of immigrants were striving to become American in a booming postwar world. The place was one block in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the house that Roberts's grandfather, Harry Schanbam, built with his own hands, a warm and reassuring home, just across the Hudson River from "the city," where Roberts grew up surrounded by family and tales of the Old Country.

This personal journey starts in Russia, where the family business of writing and ideas began. A great-uncle became an editor of Pravda and two great-aunts were originalmembers of the Bolshevik party. His other grandfather, Abraham Rogowsky, stole money to become a Zionist pioneer in Palestine and helped to build the second road in Tel Aviv before settling in America. Roberts returns his saga to Depression-era Bayonne, where his parents, living one block apart, penned love letters to each other before marrying in secret. His father, an author and publisher of children's books, and his uncle, a critic and short story writer, instilled in him a love for words and a determination to carry on the family legacy, a legacy he is now passing on to his own children and grandchildren.

Roberts, too, would leave home, for Harvard, where he met Cokie Boggs, the Catholic girl he would marry, and later, for the New York Times, where he would start his career -- across the river and worlds away from where he began. An emotional, compelling story of fathers and sons, My Fathers' Houses encapsulates the American experience of change and continuity, of breaking new ground using the tools and traditions of the past. ... Read more


5. The Language of Baklava : A Memoir
by DIANA ABU-JABER
list price: $23.00
our price: $16.10
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Asin: 0375423044
Catlog: Book (2005-03-15)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 174609
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6. On Hitler's Mountain : Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood
by Irmgard A. Hunt
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060532173
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 19532
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

On Hitler's Mountain is a powerful, intimate, riveting, and revealing account of a seemingly halcyon life lived mere paces from a center of evil and madness; a remarkable memoir of an "ordinary" childhood spent in an extraordinary time and place.

Born in 1934, Irmgard Hunt grew up in the picturesque Bavarian village of Berchtesgaden, in the shadow of the Eagle's Nest and near Adolf Hitler's luxurious alpine retreat. The very model of blond Aryan "purity," Irmgard sat on the Führer's knee for photographers, witnessed with excitement the comings and goings of all manner of famous personages, and with the blindness of a child accepted the Nazi doctrine that most of her family and everyone around her so eagerly embraced. Here, in a picture-postcard world untouched by the war and seemingly unblemished by the horrors Germany's master had wrought, she accepted the lies of her teachers and church and civic leaders, joined the Hitler Youth at age ten, and joyfully sang the songs extolling the virtues of National Socialism.

But before the end -- when she and other children would be forced to cower in terror in dank bomb shelters and wartime deprivations would take a harrowing toll -- Irmgard's doubts about the "truths" she had been force-fed increased, fueled by the few brave souls who had not accepted Hitler and his abominations. After the fall of the brutal dictatorship and the suicide of its mad architect, many of her neighbors and loved ones still clung to their beliefs, prejudices, denial, and unacknowledged guilt. Irmgard, often feeling lonely in her quest, was determined to face the truth of her country's criminal past and to bear the responsibility for an almost unbearable reality that most of her elders were determined to forget. She resolved even then that the lessons of her youth would guide her actions and steel her commitment to defend the freedoms and democratic values that had been so easily dismissed by the German people.

Provocative and astonishing, Irmgard A. Hunt's On Hitler's Mountain offers a unique, gripping, and vitally important first-person perspective on a tumultuous era in modern history, as viewed through the eyes of a child -- a candid and fascinating document, free of rationalization and whitewash, that chronicles the devastating moral collapse of a civilized nation.

... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Growing Up in the Shadow of The Eagle's Nest
You may have read numerous books on World War II, but Irmgard Hunt has written an account from her viewpoint of growing up in Nazi Germany in the town of Berchtesgaden.She describes conflicting opinions held by family members regarding Adolf Hitler and her confusion as to who and what to believe.Was he Germany's savior or a monster to be feared?School became something she hated due to pro Nazi teachers who indoctrinated the students and abused their authority with unnecessary corporal punishment.One of her classmates was the son of Albert Speer while another was the son of the executed Fritz Sauckel. Irmgard describes an experience of a fanatical pro Nazi teacher who insisted she get up in front of the class and state how proud she was that her father gave his life in the war for the Fuhrer.Another of her teacher's appeared to be a kindly woman who gently asked whether or not one of her relatives was supporting the Fuhrer.She hesitated in answering, but then lied that he doesn't talk about the situation.She later found her teacher was an informant for the Gestapo, and shuddered as to how close she had come to consigning him to a concentration camp.She also relates her uncomfortable experience of sitting on the knee of Hitler in addition to her fear of allied bombings and wondering how the Americans would treat her family members once they invaded Berchtesgaden.This book is told from the viewpoint of a child and the fears and conflicting thoughts she had regarding the war.The book also includes a picture of Hitler's Berghof after it was bombed along with a picture of the Eagle's Nest sitting on top one of the mountains.The author also speaks of her beginning to challenge her mother's beliefs.The war became tiresome and Irmgard realized she had been robbed of a significant part of her childhood.This book is a quick read, but whether you are a grizzled veteran of World War II books or a neophyte this is a book that gives you the war from a different viewpoint ( a child).

5-0 out of 5 stars A valuable book!
Irmgard A. Hunt's memoir, "On Hitler's Mountain," is a valuable, fascinating addition to the accounts of the Second World War.Hunt, born in 1934, gives a clear, heartbreaking account of daily life during the 12 years of Hitler's regime.She makes no excuses for how her countrymen (and parents) fell for Hitler's line of a "greater Germany," particularly after the horrid, humiliating Treaty of Versailles, the subsequent inflation and hunger of the Weimar period, and the seeming miracle of the 1933-1938 period.Her father was a draftee in the German army, and died in France.Illustrated with family photographs, and appropriate non-family photographs, this book is well worth reading, and deserves to be included in school curricula worldwide. Hunt grew up, came to the States, married, had two children, and became an executive in several organisations in defence of the environment.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Irmgard Hunt's book is a thoroughly engrossing story of a childhood in extreme circumstances.Equally enthralling is her description of how evil crept so easily into German society.Her parents voted for Hitler in 1933 because they were desperate for stability and prosperity.Their middle class respectability kept them from questioning authority or the authoritarian tactics of the Nazi regime.

Her description of the hardships and ravages of the war from a child's point of view makes for a fascinating narrative.Someone once said of U.S. Grant's memoirs that it's the only book about the Civil War that you keep reading because you want to find out how the war turned out.The same can be said of Hunt's book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Young Girl Growing Up In Nazi Germany
She was on the politically correct side of the fence. She even got to sit on Hitler's lap and her parent's supported Hitler. However, she was in other ways an ordinary German trying to live an ordinary life and to have a regular childhood. Through her eyes the reader has an opportunity to answer some of the questions that most readers have. What was it like to be an "ordinary" German citizen caught up in the evilness of the time? How did "ordinary" German citizens react to the crimes all around them?

Hunt writes of her life and the lives of adults around her. She sheds light on how this criminal government came about and of the complacency those persons who could have stopped it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A remarkable memoir
On Hitler's Mountain is a beautifully-written, thought-provoking memoir of Nazi Germany from the perspective of a young blond German girl.Irmgard Hunt describes the everyday life of her childhood in a remarkably frank style.She resists any temptation to justify or editorialize her recounts of her joining the Nazi youth group or her parents support for Hitler.Her depictions of war-time poverty and the pressures from teachers and neighbors to conform don't seek to justify the behavior of her family and neighbors.Rather, they illuminate how one can be lured into thinking or acting in ways that are in retrospect so monstrously wrong.

Like me, you may well finish this book in just three evenings and not stop to wonder how you would have behaved, either as a child or an adult, in Nazi Germany. ... Read more


7. First They Killed My Father : A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
by Loung Ung
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060931388
Catlog: Book (2001-01-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 34614
Average Customer Review: 4.52 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. When Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung's family was forced to flee their home and hide their previous life of privilege. Eventually, they dispersed in order to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while her other siblings were sent to labor camps. Only after the Vietnamese destroyed the Khmer Rouge were Loung and her surviving siblings slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother and sustained by her sister's gentle kindness amid brutality, Loung forged ahead to create a courageous new life. Harrowing yet hopeful, insightful and compelling, this family's story is truly unforgettable.

... Read more

Reviews (110)

4-0 out of 5 stars First They Killed My Father
Book Review

"First They Killed My Father: A Daughter Of Cambodia Remembers" by Ms. Loung Ung. January 2000. HarperCollins Publishers, 256 pages.

Reviewed by Ronnie Yimsut Special to the Asian Reporter

Do you remember when you were just a child? What kind a childhood did you have? Do you still remember what kind of dream you have? What was it like for you when you were growing up?

These are some of the questions one should ponder before he or she is about to read a recently published book by Ms. Loung Ung. For Loung, a genocide survivor, her answer to these questions might have been simply as, "I never really have a childhood, with the exception of the brief happy moment I have with my family." Loung's childhood, like that of many other children in Cambodia-including this reviewer, was taken away completely by war and the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields regime. Only loneliness, suffering, extreme hunger (starvation), and sadness seemed to accompany Loung's early childhood in Cambodia.

Forced to live and work as slave labors in a virtual "prison without a wall," Loung and her family endured every basic human rights abuse by a genocidal regime, following a long and agonizing forced march across Cambodia. Overworked, sickness, and starvation soon followed as her constant companions. One by one, her family members were dying. Her family unity was slowly and agonizingly breaking up piece-by-piece by the so called, "Angkar," the Khmer Rouge secretive or phantom organization. An older sister was the first to die of illness, as a direct result of overwork and starvation, in a primitive Communist hospital. Her father, a former government official, was the first to be taken away and subsequently executed. Her mother and the youngest sister survived long enough to endure more torture before the Khmer Rouge young and eager executioners also killed them. No one immune from the mass killing by the Khmer Rouge, including some of the loyal Khmer Rouge cadres and soldiers themselves.

Orphaned by age eight years old, young Loung managed to overcome the Khmer Rouge brain washing sessions and training to be a child soldier. They trained her to be just another obedient killer for Angkar, like so many others before her. But they failed miserably. She survived only by her wit and her own family members' love for one another, and the numerous sacrifices that were made. It was the formula needed to fence against a genocidal regime bent on destroying family unity and a civil society. Loung refused to give up. In the end, Loung strong will have triumphant against all odds.

Loung's memoir represents the story of countless other children in Cambodia who did not survive to tell of their fate, of their immense suffering before their untimely death. In telling her own story, Loung is in fact telling many other untold stories of the suffering and death of her fellow children in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge reign of terrors. She is the voice for many others who are no longer have a voice. As Loung often said, "By telling my own story of suffering to others who would listen, I am worthy of being alive."

Thank you for your courage and determination, Loung!

5-0 out of 5 stars A deeply moving story of courage and survival
In the beginning pages of "First They Killed My Father", the book is dedicated in memory of the two million people that were killed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The vastness of that number is hard to understand and comprehend, but by writing her book Loung Ung helps us to understand. By telling her story she speaks not only for herself; but for all of those other voices that will never again be heard. The story that she tells is especially heartbreaking, because it is a story of horror and brutality seen through the eyes of a child. Loung Ung was only 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in 1975. Loung and her family; along with hundreds of thousands of other families from the capital city of Phnom Penh; were forced to leave their homes and to flee into the countryside. They witnessed the deliberate destruction of an entire society by the Khmer Rouge. Day to day life in Cambodia became a living nightmare. I felt a very deep sense of grief and sadness reading about the death of so many of the Cambodian people; and of the terrible suffering endured by Loung and her family. But beyond those feelings of sadness, there is much more within this book. There are many poignant moments in the book, that reaffirm the ultimate value of every human life. As you read Loung's story, every member of her family will be vividly brought to life before your eyes. The love, sacrifice, courage and kindness of Loung's family helped to give her the strength to survive. Loung's courageous heart has helped others to live too. This is a book that was written from the heart, and it is a story that you will always remember.

5-0 out of 5 stars My new favorite book
This is an absolutely wonderful book. I wish that I hadn't read it yet so I could go back and read it again for the first time. It is a haunting recount of the transition of Cambodia's government by Pol Pot and the Khmer rouge and an amazing story of the people who were able to survive it. Fantastic writing that keeps you glued to every page. THis book really makes you realize the lack our hardship in your own life.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Essential Reading
Forget Britney....And do you tend to complain of your life's miseries because you are not Britney? This is the kind of literature that makes you a different person, if you read it. You won't be the same, I promise. You'd appreciate the simplest of things in life...a drop of water, a grain of rice, a grain of sugar...and love and support from the family. It should be on a reading list for every students.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moved me so much on the human spirit
As I'm now travelling in the Southeast Asia I would want to read some books about this area. I found Ms Luong Ung's book in a bookstore in Nha Trang of Vietnam (original copy!). Once I started to read it I had to stop for some time to get some fresh air before I could finish it. The book was so greatly written but the story was so horrible, it's impossible to be unmoved by the knowledge that this is not a fiction but a real life story that happened at the time of my generation. I felt the sorrow when Ms Luong's father, and later her mother, were taken away by the Khmer Rough, I felt the happiness when she finally started a new life in America. I was born in Aug 1977 and it's somehow quite difficult to imagine that when I was well brought up in a peaceful place (in Hong Kong), then a girl and other children of my generation living very near to me would force to serve for the children army and suffer from great miseries and unspeakable carnage. This book definitely tells us how lucky we are, how precious a life can be, and how one politician's stupid idea would ruin so many lives and families. Thanks Ms Loung for writing such a great book to share her experience with all of us, it must have taken you great courage to tell us your story, which moved me so much on the human spirit. ... Read more


8. A Brother's Journey : Surviving a Childhood of Abuse
by Richard B. Pelzer
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446533688
Catlog: Book (2005-01-05)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 751397
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9. Waiting for Snow in Havana : Confessions of a Cuban Boy
by Carlos Eire
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743246411
Catlog: Book (2004-01-13)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 2633
Average Customer Review: 4.58 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Have mercy on me, Lord, I am Cuban." In 1962, Carlos Eire was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba -- exiled from his family, his country, and his own childhood by the revolution. The memories of Carlos's life in Havana, cut short when he was just eleven years old, are at the heart of this stunning, evocative, and unforgettable memoir.

Waiting for Snow in Havana is both an exorcism and an ode to a paradise lost. For the Cuba of Carlos's youth -- with its lizards and turquoise seas and sun-drenched siestas -- becomes an island of condemnation once a cigar-smoking guerrilla named Fidel Castro ousts President Batista on January 1, 1959. Suddenly the music in the streets sounds like gunfire. Christmas is made illegal, political dissent leads to imprisonment, and too many of Carlos's friends are leaving Cuba for a place as far away and unthinkable as the United States. Carlos will end up there, too, and fulfill his mother's dreams by becoming a modern American man -- even if his soul remains in the country he left behind.

Narrated with the urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is a eulogy for a native land and a loving testament to the collective spirit of Cubans everywhere. ... Read more

Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars A New Purveyor of Magical Realism
Carlos Eire arrives on the literary scene with a tasty eye for the magical, a sense of humor that is ingratiating, an ability to capture the tenor of Cuba at the time of the Revolution, an adult's sense of tragedy as perceived through the trusting eyes of a child. WAITING FOR SNOW IN HAVANA: Confessions of a Cuban Boy is wonderful rollercoaster of a ride that recalls the unimaginable beauty of Cuba before the fall, walks through the tangled streets of a city destroyed by a dictator, and finally looks back (and down) at the Cuba of today from a vantage in the United States.

Eire knows children well, so well that at times his writing is so convincingly that of a wide-eyed child that the reader needs to back up a few pages to realize this is a memoir and not a novel. In the end he has more thoroughly than any other writer given us an insider's view of Cuba in the 50's and 60's that it is possible for us to understand the mountainous changes that Fidel Castro effected on this lovely island. To say more would be to spoil an E-ride in Disneyland. Read this book for the joy of a child's perception, the insight of an expatriate's knowledge, and the philosophy of a man of heart and hope. A fine Debut Novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lurking Lizards: Good vs. Evil
On January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro ousted Batista from Cuba and wrested eight-year-old Carlos Eire from his life of privileged ease. As a son of the upper class, Carlos had attended the best private schools and frolicked with his brother on clear Cuban beaches under a lemon sky. Three years later, countless public executions and social anarchy convinced his parents to send the boys to the United States. Carlos was one of the 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba to an uncertain future in America.

Despite the poverty and loneliness that awaited him in Florida, Carlos went on to achieve success as a professor at Yale University. Waiting for Snow in Havana is his cathartic tale of Cuban life before and after its Glorious Revolution. The book's blatant honesty is sometimes painful to read, but its prosaic beauty left me breathless. There is a disjointed quality to the writing that is somehow appropriate here: a hilarious tale of neighborhood boys trying to send a lizard into outer space strapped to a bottle rocket might introduce a tirade against the author's perverted adopted brother, who tormented the young boy for years with sexual advances. He tells of his cousin's death before a firing squad and his uncle's retreat into madness after languishing in one of Fidel's many prisons, then goes on to paint exquisite pictures of tangerine sunsets and selfless love.

Lizards. They crop up again and again, personifying evil. The book is a lyric commentary on the struggle of evil against God's creation. Lush Cuba is ravaged by a cruel overlord. The same ocean that teems with heart-stoppingly beautiful parrot fish houses sharks as well. Carlos' loving father is marred by the delusion, the certainty, that he is the reincarnation of King Louis XVI. He chooses his wife because he is convinced she was once Marie Antoinette. So great is his fantasy that he brings home a street urchin, whom he recognizes as the reincarnation of the French dauphin, and adopts him, thus innocently introducing a cruel pervert into his happy family. That he became a Christian believer despite the ugliness of his life is a triumph of God's grace. But believe he does, although his writing sometimes shocks my sensibilities. (The frequent use of Christ's name as a literary device, for example, offended me.) God works in mysterious ways, and His method of reaching a Cuban Catholic must surely be unlike His wooing of a Bible-Belt Protestant. It follows, then, that Dr. Eire's portrayal of God's love would necessarily be different from mine. Who am I to say that mine is better, despite his profanity? Apparently others in the Christian community agree with me; I actually read this book at the recommendation of a writer in Christianity Today, who named it among his top ten favorites of 2003. It is now a favorite of mine.

2-0 out of 5 stars Crocodile Tears in Havana
This is a misty-eyed memoir of an egoistical man who had a very privileged childhood. Because that idealized world was sundered, he believes he has a deeper take on suffering and displacement and he asks the reader to sympathize with his plight and along the way, to blame it all on Castro. The writing is precious, almost cloyingly so--one would expect a historian to be more careful of his language. If the Cuba he remembers is a paradise lost, then he needs to move on. Cuba has survived well enough without him.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and bittersweet
Having left Cuba as a young girl of 10, I lived through what he shares in the book. His story is told with sentiment and true emotion, as only one can tell it having lived through it. I hope Mr. Eire keeps on writing books such as this.

5-0 out of 5 stars A moving chronicle of a childhood lost to a revolution
Very beautiful and as lyrical as one can possible get, "Waiting for Snow in Havana" embraces with equal fervor, both the beauty and innocence of childhood with its laughter, pranks and endless fascinations with lizards and the heartbreaking tragedy and the ensuing political upheaval that would eventually destroy it all. I'll admit that Mr. Eire is occasionally prone to fits of self-indulgence, rambling endlessly about trivialities and the collaboration of a sympathetic editor didn't help matters, but this is ultimately a gorgeous and haunting memoir that should be read by anyone interested in the Diaspora, Cuban or otherwise. The humorous segments are laugh out loud funny (especially if you, like me, are Cuban and can relate to the quirkiness that is inherent to the Cuban temperament) and the sorrowful ones were enough to bring tears to my eyes. The pages are seemingly perfumed with a palpable sense of longing yet eternal optimism lends its unmistakable scent to the heady brew. To those directly affected by the Cuban revolution, Operation Pedro Pan and/or endless exile, this beautifully rendered chronicle will bring back many wonderful, if equally painful memories and to those fortunate enough to have been spared those sorrows, it is my fervent hope that it will serve as insight into the beauty and warmth of the Cuban people and our much cherished culture. ... Read more


10. Magical Mystery Tours : My Life with the Beatles
by Tony Bramwell, Rosemary Kingsland
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 031233043X
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Sales Rank: 4018
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"If you want to know anything about the Beatles, ask Tony Bramwell. He remembers more than I do."- Sir Paul McCartney to Donovan in a January 2002 interview

Tony Bramwell's remarkable life began in a postwar Liverpool suburb, where he was childhood friends with three of the Beatles long before they were famous. And by the time he caught up with George Harrison on the top of a bus going to check out "The Beatles, direct from Hamburg"--one of whom George turned out to be--Tony was well on his way to staying by them for every step of their meteoric rise.

If anything needed taking care of, Tony Bramwell was the man the Beatles called, the man they knew they could trust. His story has been sought after for years, and now, here it is, full of untold stories and detailing with an insider's shrewd eye the Apple empire's incomparable rise, Brian Epstein's frolics, Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, Phil Spector's eccentric behavior, and new stories about Yoko Ono, the Stones, and the life--his life.

From developing the first Beatle music videos to heading Apple Films, and from riding bikes and trading records with George Harrison to working and partying with everyone from the Beatles to Hendrix, Ray Charles, and The Who, Tony's life really did (and does) encompass a who's who of rock.

His story reveals fresh insights into the Beatles' childhoods and families, their early recordings and songwriting, the politics at Apple, and Yoko's pursuit of John and her growing influence over the Beatles' lives. And it uncovers new information about the Shea Stadium concert footage, John Lennon's late-night "escapes," and more. From the Cavern Club to the rooftop concert, from the first number one to the last, and from scraps of song lyrics to the discovery of the famous Mr. Kite circus poster, Tony Bramwell really did see it all.

Conversational, direct, and honest, the ultimate Beatles insider finally shares his own version of the frantic and glorious ascent of four boys from Liverpool lads to rock and roll kings.
... Read more

Reviews (8)

2-0 out of 5 stars Really?!!
First-hand stories of legends (living or not) from half a century ago are usually just that: stories. I'm sure most of them are true, but they don't have to be to sell books. And who's memory is that good, or has not been diluted or rearranged many times during one's life, to be able to note specifics of conversations or events pertaining to somebody else?

We all know that Yoko was the black widow that ate the Beatles heart, but we also should know that John desperately needed a "mommy" figure because he lost his mother twice as a child. People have been alot more screwed up from alot less trauma.

It is also been well known for quite a while that the Beatles re-recorded parts of the Shea Stadium concert soundtrack. Mark Lewisohn also details this (secret? Come on!) episode in The Complete Beatles Chronicles, although with plenty of inaccuracies as well. There are many bootleg copies of the concert, some with the original Shea audio, and some with the re-dubbed audio, and it's fairly easy to tell which is which, once you've seen it a few times. And hardly everything was touched-up anyway. Many of the original vocals remained with some of the instruments re-dubbed on a given track, but some songs were never touched at all. I guess it came as a shock to me, when I first saw the "Rain" video on Ed Sullivan, that they weren't really singing or playing; just miming, but I'm not 10 years old anymore, and they didn't invent lip-syncing, either.

So, I guess my point is that even historical documents often bear false information, so don't take somebody's "I was there" book as Gospel. It is, after all, just entertainment!

4-0 out of 5 stars One Big Suprise-true or false?
This is an enjoyable romp thru the Beatles history marred only by some suprising inaccuricies.They can mostly be overlooked as so much time has passed and a lot of alcohol has gone over the dam since then.

HOWEVER-there is a claim made in the book that I have never heard before and am really wondering about.Bramwell states the entire Shea Stadium concert of 1965 was re-recorded in the studio and dubbed onto the film shown on CBS the following year.With the exception of "Act Naturally", the studio version of which is used in the film, it appears the Beatles are playing and singing live. Has anyone heard of this, or has it been confirmed thru another source?Just wondering.

One last thought.This book is not likely to make Yoko Ono's end of the year top ten list.She has to be one of the most annoying people of the last century.What the hell was John Lennon thinking?

5-0 out of 5 stars Rare Gem of a Beatle Book - Advanced Beatle History
I love this book.This is a refreshing Beatle biography, from the standpoint of someone who literally grew up with the Beatles and socialized with them from boyhood.A gifted raconteur, Bramwell draws readers into a "sense" of each Beatle as a boy; what it was like to have George Harrison have dinner at your table; to witness George pulling a very dangerous stunt as a boy and being warned about John's questionable influence on his peers.

Bramwell does a stellar job of portraying a part of musical/artistic/cultural history that will no doubt delight inveterate Beatle fans, but attract the attention of those either becoming familiar with the Beatles or who have an interest in history in general.This book is really geared for all ranging from the "advanced" Beatle fan; that is, one who has a strong background in Beatle knowledge to people wanting to learn more about them and bring them to a high level of Beatle information.

This inveterate, avid Beatles' fan gives this work a hearty endorsement and a yeah, yeah, yeah!



3-0 out of 5 stars Hatred of Yoko Spoils What Could Have Been Something Special
Mr. Bramwell really did know the Beatles in Liverpool and the beginning sections of this book are excellent.Unfortunately Mr. Bramwell's blinding hatred of Yoko Ono really spoils the latter half.Mr. Bramwell puts an anti-Yoko, pro-Paul statement on practically every page and and some of his ommissions and misstatements are really egregious. Once Yoko enters the picture, Paul can do no wrong, and John's contributions are constantly minimized. Perhaps Yoko really was as loathsome to Mr. Bramwell as he claims when he worked for Apple.But his description of the complex Paul/John/Yoko dynamic is simply too vitrolic to be taken seriously.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good insider's view of the Beatles
Tony Bramwell, assisted by Rosemary Kingsland, writes a commendable overview of his years with the Beatles.Bramwell was the "go to" guy when members of the band or their management needed something done.

His early years with the group were the most interesting to me.He makes the reader feel that they are along for the ride when Tony and the group go on an exhausting van trip across England.The reader can tagalong as Tony assists John in escaping suburban imprisonment and embarking on a drunken night on the town in swingin' '60's London.

Bramwell is affecting when describing the trials and tribulations of Brian Epstein, the genius who made the Beatles "bigger than Elvis," but who succumbed to his own inner demons.

Yoko Ono is portrayed as the crazed "stalker" who calculatingly seduces John and evetually lures his interests away from the group.Sadly, Tony's account of her calculated pursuit of the vulnerable Lennon rings tragically true.

The reason I didn't give the book five stars is due to its occasional lapse in historical accuracy and misspellings.Bela Lugosi, who is described as a friend and dinner guest of Phil Spector, died in 1956, two years before Spector even wrote his first number one hit, "To Know Him is to Love Him."Bryan Ferry is rechristened "Brian" Ferry.

Still, overall, I recommend Tony Bramwell's book to all Beatles fans.Reading the book is like sitting in a cozy pub with a man who was one of the Beatles' closet friends and confidantes. ... Read more


11. Faded Pictures from My Backyard : A Memoir
by SUE CARSWELL
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345438566
Catlog: Book (2005-04-26)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 24766
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Backyard To Remember
Sue Carswell's Memoir Faded Pictures From My Backyard was a profound read. It touched my heart, my soul and made me realize how much my family means to me. When I picked up this book I can honestly say I didn't put it down until the very last page. I became engulfed, intrigued, enveloped into a little girls world so different from anything I could imagine.Faded Pictures will take you by surprise and maybe by wonder, too. A defininate book club winner that I am sure will be well known in a very short time.Trust me... Read it...And feel the beauty within.A Memoir worth every picture........

5-0 out of 5 stars Perception lies in eyes of the beholder
The father, John Carswell, is portrayed as man, and a father, who was well aware of "love", in the most innocent sense of the word, and allowed its power to lead his life's paths.This memoir of a child's perception of life, dictated by that father's aspirations, very quickly engulfs its reader with a childhood commonness. In some ways, even though Sue's life, growing up within the confines of an orphanage, was very different, the experiences which take place within the house are ones which tightly grab hold of the heart of all who lived with brothers, sisters or both. While continuing to read, the clearer it becomes how unique a story it is. The history of The Home, its orphans with their unique life history, all of its effect and relations upon the author, the one perceiving, experiencing and learning some of life's hardest lessons of reality.It is a wonderful, self-enlightening story, to say the least, which in the midst of it all, causes its common reader to reflect upon the appreciation of that same love which inspired both her and her father.The love of family.

5-0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this book down, I read it in two days flat.
Faded Pictures from My Backyard" is a compelling memoir of what it was like for a young, inquisitive and caring girl of a family of seven to live in a house on whose backyard sat an orphanage, a riverbank teeming with unruly life, where her father worked as its administrator and her mother its nurse.
This is a gripping and heartrending work, because Carswell has captured what often can't be captured or communicated later in adult life, the psychosomatic feel of what it's like to live among orphans. This book is tailor-made for a movie.
Especially forceful are scenes of how the orphans' fears were made manifest.
That includes scenes depicting an orphan who, day and night, breaks windows desperately trying to escape, but has no place to go. Scenes of orphans setting off fire alarms in their bedrooms every night, jolting everyone out of sleep miles around. Scenes showing a young, terribly burned, suicidal boy, whose mother tried to kill him in a house fire, who desperately wanted to join his mother in heaven--I know, I couldn't stop crying here--and who could only find value in his own life after the orphanage's administrators helped him enact his own wake.
Especially heartrending are the scenes where, every year at Christmas, Carswell would stare out her backyard window as orphans trekked across the snow in hand-me-down clothes to celebrate in the orphanage's gym with donated toys under a donated tree, alone, none of their parents in sight. Touching too are scenes about orphan Bob Wygant, who overcame painful obstacles to find success and love with his vivacious and kind wife Sally.
All of this is anchored by two powerful moral presences, Carswell's father, John, who selflessly and tirelessly gives of himself daily to the orphans, all the while running his own brood of five towheaded, rambunctious, loving children, including Carswell's bighearted, kind sisters Mandy and Sarah. Helping him along were Carswell's loving, smart Aunt Mary and fun-loving cousin Laurie.
And who really comes shining through is Carswell's mother, Elaine, a selfless woman who tirelessly gave herself totally in the clarity of love. Elaine is the heart of the book. Carswell deftly shows how her mother's life was simply about one, little three-letter word: Joy.
As Sue's mother's illness advances, as her body is hollowed out by cancer, you'll cry from the pain that echoes throughout these pages, a pain that feels much like a voice echoing in a house without furniture and curtains.
Carswell has accomplished quite a feat. She's carefully woven the stories of orphans in with her own feelings of what it was like for a young girl to absorb their pain and emotion. In so doing, Carswell showed how her genetic makeup of depression and sleep disorder was ignited by her backyard, conditions which were only dealt with as an adult living in New York City.
There's a timeless lesson here for parents, especially to be aware if their child needs help. And there's a lesson here about the value of showing children love every day, not just once a year at Christmas.
In the end, Carswell has written a book that is animated with those first visions of childhood in their original freshness and vigor.
It's hard to find in any work of fiction, much less a memoir, anything that's quite like the pure emotional punch of this book.
It's true, what someone once said, that the effect of intense, heartfelt emotions feels like going down two steps at a time. You feel as if you're drawing on the very source of life itself. That's what this book accomplishes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Publishers Weekly in my opinion is wrong
I am the author of this memoir.Although PW has every right to slam my book if they so feel, they also have a responsibility to get their facts right.This is not a thinly veiled memoir of my deceased mother but rather my love letter to her in the eight years since she has been gone.As I write in my book, her life story is richly textured and full of lessons on how to be a decent and caring parent.This is not a book about my hair-dos over time but a story of a family growing up with an unusual backyard, an orphanage.This is not a book that details the life of a "quasi orphan" it details the life of an orphan -- there is nothing quasi about that. Nor is it the the story of an orphan who becomes an "artist"...It is the story of a little boy who never once had a Sunday visitor throughout his entire childhood growing up on the grounds of the Albany Home for Children and who would later become a football star and esteemed school administrator.That orphan never painted a picture in his life.All said, please read what others have written about my book, but don't let PW whose cowardly reviewers never sign their names be your guiding source for me or other writers works. Thank you - Sue Carswell

5-0 out of 5 stars A unique memoir about family relationships
"From childhood's hour, I have not seen as others were. I have not seen as others saw."

-- Edgar Allen Poe, "Alone"

A family is the bricks with which we are all built. They define us; they give us structure and something to cling to, or something from which to rebel. The family we grow up with stays a part of our lives forever.

In FADED PICTURES FROM MY BACKYARD, Sue Carswell reflects back on her own families --- the one she grew up with, and the one she would watch every day through the window looking out onto the backyard. Carswell grew up in a house bordering the Albany Home for Children, where her father worked as the Administrator and her mother was a nurse. Fearing the influence the troubled orphans could have on them, Sue and her four siblings were not permitted to play or really interact much with the residents of the Home. As the author grows up watching the orphans from the distance across her backyard, she beings to go through developmental troubles of her own --- suffering from insomnia, panic attacks, and depression. Sue and her own family become increasingly distanced by her troubles, and she begins to wonder if she doesn't fit in better with the lives she imagines the orphans must have, across the backyard.

Carswell's unique story is made up of pieced-together fragments, reflecting in some ways the fragmented lives of the Albany Home's residents. She skips back and forth through time in her own life story and interweaves her tale with stories of the Home's orphans. Carswell is a gifted storyteller with an eye for detail, although in early chapters dealing with her young childhood, the first-person narrative from the point of view of a young child does get a little tediously cute. She interweaves the stories of other orphans, growing up in the Albany Home during its different stages (when it was a more traditional orphanage, for example, during the Depression), but because Carswell could never really interact with those orphans, the stories feel somewhat impersonal. Kept, like many things, at a distance.

At its core, FADED PICTURES FROM MY BACKYARD is really about the family relationship Carswell knows and misses the most --- the relationship she shared with her own mother, who died in 1997. It's also the story of the strained relationship with her father, a man who --- like the orphans across the backyard --- she doesn't seem to be able to ever really understand.

Through FADED PICTURES FROM MY BACKYARD, Carswell shows us the many meanings of the word "orphan" and teaches us that it may never be too late to find our way home.

--- Reviewed by Lourdes Orive
... Read more


12. The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue : A Child of the Fifties Looks Back
by Robert Klein
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684854880
Catlog: Book (2005-06-02)
Publisher: Touchstone
Sales Rank: 9629
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Dear Reader,


When we asked the beloved award-winning comedian and actor Robert Klein to write a book, you can imagine our utter surprise when he told us that he wanted to write about sixth-century Chinese pottery. Thankfully, he hit a creative brick wall (since he doesn't really know anything about pottery from China or anywhere else). Then came similar failures to write books about sea turtles, circumnavigation of the globe, building jet engines at home, the sociology of chickens, or fungi of the skin.

Luckily, Mr. Klein's paramount concern was the consumer. He knew that if we, his publishers, were going to boldly ask you to purchase his book (see above for price), he would have to write something so good, so worthwhile, so meaningful as to make you want to send additional money to your bookseller in gratitude for having allowed you to partake in this reading experience.

So Mr. Klein set out to write about what he knows best: himself. This book is about the adventures of a child who becomes a young man: how he thinks and dreams and lusts and fears and laughs and handles adversity.

From the beginning of his distinguished career as a comedian, Robert Klein established himself as a pioneer in observational humor and razor-sharp routines that are infectiously funny. Now -- for the first time -- Klein brings his trademark humor and honesty to the printed page. In this portrait of a comic as a young man, Klein takes us back to the people and streets of his Bronx neighborhood, the eccentric cast of characters in the Catskills hotels and bungalow colonies where he worked, the college dorms where he received more than an academic education, the 1964 World's Fair where he fell in love, New York City and Chicago in the 1960s as he developed his talent, and Los Angeles just as he was about to embark on a show business career. Throughout, Klein reveals the hilarity of growing up and explores the mysteries and his own foibles in sex and relationships. He recounts with wit and poignancy losing his virginity with a prostitute, bringing home a German girlfriend to his Jewish family, and the amorous adventures of the busboy he once was.

With an ego more fragile than Chinese pottery, Robert Klein has written a funny and evocative coming-of-age memoir -- well worth the price (if we say so ourselves). Enjoy.


All the best,
The Publisher ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book Truly Worth The Wait
Robert Klein has been my favorite comedian since I was twelve.Mind Over Matter was the first comedy album I ever heard and after that I was hooked.In eighth grade English class when we were assigned to memorize and recite a poem, I chose Mind Over Matter by Robert Klein (which I still know by heart.)

Since then I have become a comedian myself, and whenever asked who my favorite comedian is I answer "Robert Klein" without hesitation.I was thrilled to discover his memoir and am excited to be the first customer reviewer.

Klein once again displays the unique intelligence fans have valued for years by writing a detailed and touching memoir rather than a joke book.This book is rich with detailed memories.As an avid fan I was amazed and intrigued by how closely the routines I remember so fondly reflect Klein's real life.This confirms the theory that the best humor, and Klein is the very best, must come from the truth.

In a his classic routine about Alfred University ("people clap with one hand for Alfred") Klein recounted his shock upon discovering a dormitory neighbor with a swastika mobile and his frantic phone call home ("Mama, the boy next door..."). The book contains an in depth telling of the tale, which includes a brawl with the boy who insisted the shape wasn't actually a swastika.

In another old favorite routine Klein asked, "do you really have to wait an hour after you eat before you go swimming?" He went on to explain that his father claimed that you waited different times for different foods ("jello - five minutes, franks and beans - you can't go in till NEXT YEAR.") The book tells this true story in great detail.

In another routine Klein spoke about how his mother had a story about how anything and everything was dangerous, even playing checkers ("a boy on Hull Street put his eye out with a checker.") The memoir describes in great detail many examples of the overprotective behavior of both of his parents and how his youth was filled with fear of danger everywhere.These and more elaboration on the true stories behind the lines will appeal to any reader and will particularly fascinate fans.

The book is smart, touching and honest.Klein is a comedian's comedian and any true fan of comedy appreciates the importance and brilliance of his work.In this book Klein generously, with great skill shares a behind the scenes look at his evolution.It is a book well worth reading and I very highly recommend it.
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13. Persepolis : The Story of a Childhood
by MARJANE SATRAPI
list price: $11.95
our price: $8.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 037571457X
Catlog: Book (2004-06-01)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 5230
Average Customer Review: 4.76 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane’s child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity.And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.
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Reviews (58)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Iranian revolution viewed by a little girl: touching!
PERSEPOLIS is a graphical autobiography of the author, who experienced the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraq war as a child in the 1970s and 1980s. It is told in the beatiful black and white graphical language of a comic strip where simple pictures communicate strong feelings, much better than words could.

But PERSEPOLIS is also the story or a whole generation of young Iranians, who left their land in the quest of better conditions during the post-revolutionary era. I belong to this generation myself and I totally identified with the experiences Ms SATRAPI went through- her childhood in post revolutionary Iran, her description of Iranian society at the time, her exile in Austria- also in the volumes 2 & 3 (which already appeared in French).

Though conceived as a comic book, the book has messages which are not childish in nature: the child, through the naiveness of her views, points out to many of the contradictions of Iranian society that adults are unwilling to face.

It is also one of the rare unbiased personal accounts of what happened in Iran at the time of ther evolution and as such, is an interesting document on this period of Iranian history.
(It certainly contains more information on Iran and its people than the junk broadcasted on most TV channels).

Some readers (including reviews posted here) criticize this book for not being a realistic description of Iran. Though I totally disagree with this criticism, the main point is that PERSEPOLIS is NOT a history book nor a sociological study. It is a story, the story of a childhood and the author has never claimed it to be otherwise.

I definitely recommend this book, first to all Iranians who live abroad, especially those who did not grow up in Iran and did not
experience the revolution, and then to all readers interested in getting a human, insider view of what Iranian society was like in the early 1980s.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Touching Read
I read this book recently and found it imposible to put it down, I finished reading the first time I picked it up. The author does an excellent job in telling and illustrating Iran's contemporary history, and she does so -I think- quite objectibly, squaring blame not only on the major powers for their share on Iran's internal repression, but also on Iranians themselves. This type of self-examination is a rare thing in Muslim countries, where local media is coerced by the local government or which panders to victimization of Muslims and/or demonization of the West.

Ms. Satrapi paints herself, no doubt, in the best light; as a curious, precocious, insightful child, who sometimes sounds too irreverent and self-aware for a 10 year old. Yet this is perhaps the most compelling aspect of Persepolis, she looks at a complex political transition as a child, yet without sounding over-simplistic. It brought together several key ideas I had read in other more technical books about the Islamic Revolution. She weighs the conflicting messages (so harmful to a child's self-esteem) she received from her parents and society and finds a way to navigate through them. Her parents are middle class idealistic leftists who call for 'equality' but who nevertheless spend vacations in Europe and more or less spoil her. On one ocassion she gets advise from her mother about the need to forgive one's enemies, a few pages later she calls for death to those who tortured her brother in jail. The author, as a child, is besieged by these polarities. Her parents had also welcomed the Islamic Revolution, as secular Iranians did, for the unity they could provide while hoping/expecting their influence to dissipate after the Shah was deposed.

Ms. Satrapi lets the reader understand that she was far from under-priviledged in post-revolutionary Iran. She and her friends find ways to be 'cool' in spite of the vice control police that roamed the city. One understands then that no one, no matter how rich, was safe from the repression that ensued. Her father is harassed for drinking alcohol and she for wearing 'punk' (a.k.a Nike) tennis shoes. At some point her parents have to smuggle posters for her, which would have otherwise been confiscated at the airport by customs (how she thought that Iron Maiden only had four members is beyond me, but we'll let that one go!)
A complaint is that the storming of the American embassy only gets a cursory glance. Surely the tension that aroused from this would have been part of her everyday life, because of the international crisis it provoked, not to mention the failed American military Operation ('Eagleclaw') to rescue them. I also expected her to criticize the hostage takeover. She didn't.

A minor glitch is the story of her uncle, a communist who was exiled to Russia, at some point in his story one is not sure whether he was detained by the police in Russia or in Iran (?).

Yet it is the Islamic Revolution who gets the block of her criticism. She tells examples of how the revolution killed the same revolutionaries who midwifed it to life, her uncle included. How even early on, it had become more repressive than the Shah had been.

This book will benefit those whose only image of Iran (as another reviewer eloquently remarked) is that of terrosists and hostage takers. This book gives a human face to a struggle and repression that most Americans cannot fathom, and in the end, shows us that we are not all that different. Most of all, it paints a picture of life in a regime that stiffles the very air out of its people. A regime this reader hopes is on its last leg, and one whose repression has -contrary to what many believe- made Iran a country where popular support for the West is unparalled.

Don't let the less than perfect score discourage you, this is a funny, uplifting and touching work, truly from the heart. What a wonderful book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Autobiography
<br /> The Autobiographies/Memoirs have it this year, i haven't read one i didn't like. "Persepolis" is at the top of the list of spell binding, well written gut wrenching truth and honesty. <br /> Other books to read are: Nightmares Echo, Dry,Reading Lolita,Running With Scissors<br />

5-0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly the best book of the year
"Persepolis" marks the third book in the almighty triumvirate of great autobiographical graphic novels that examine injustice. Joining the ranks of "Maus" by Art Spiegelman and "Palestine" by Joe Sacco, "Persepolis" has garnered a remarkable amount of attention. Positive attention, that is. Suddenly it's getting high marks in everything from "Entertainment Weekly" to "VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates". I wonder to myself whether or not author/artist Marjane Satrapi has been surprised by the mounds of attention. I also wonder how it is that she was able to take her own life story and weave it seamlessly with the history of her own country, Iran. This book is like an illustrated version of "Midnight's Children", but far darker and far more real.

The first image in "Persepolis" is the same image you see on its cover. Marjane sits wearing a veil in 1980 for the first time. As the story continues, Marjane explains her own beginnings as well as the beginning of the "Cultural Revolution". In her own life, Marjane was an only child of middle class intellectual parents. She experienced the usual childhood ups and downs. Sometimes she believed she was God's next chosen prophet. Other times she wanted to demonstrate with her parents in the street against the Shah. Over the course of her childhood Marjane learns more about the limits of class in Iran as well as the secrets behind her family history. She finds that her grandfather was a prince, her uncle a political prisoner for years, and her parents far braver than she ever expected. Marjane deals with the danger of challenging authority under the rule of religious extremists while growing up as a normal girl. By the end, her parents determine that the only thing left to do is to send their only daughter to Vienna and Marjane must face a future without them by her side.

Before I read the book I scanned the illustrations and found them lacking. I thought (originally) that they were too simplistic to effectively convey a deep plot and deeper discussion of the human propensity for violence (and good). After reading the first page I discovered that this assumption, while normally correct, was wrongdy wrong wrong wrong. Yes, it's certainly true that Satrapi's style is simple. At the same time, it's also the ideal companion to the piece. In a book such as this you do not want to draw attention away from the narrative voice with inappropriately overdone illustrations. As for the writing itself, it's engaging to even the most reluctant reader. And what better way to teach people a little Iranian history? Quite frankly, I was baffled by some of the things I discovered here. I consider myself a lightly educated middle class individual. I know a little more world history than joe schmoe down the street, but not much more. Nonetheless, after reading roughly five pages of "Persepolis" I discovered, to my chagrin, that I know jack squat about Iran. Were you aware that Iranians are not, in fact, Arabs? How about the roots of the Cultural Revolution? How much do you know about that? Or the day to day routines of people living in Iran in the 1980s? No?

Today we the American people live in a country where our rulers like to toss about phrases like, "Axis of Evil", and condemn entire countries with a single blow. What "Persepolis" does so (apparently) effortlessly is to put a human face on inhuman suffering. Iranians have been through more horrors than can be recounted in a single book. I think what struck me the hardest about this story was the little things. The stories about girls in school skipping class to flirt with boys. Discussions with other kids about farting from kidney beans. Punk rock and Michael Jackson. All this took the book from being a personal voice of a nation's struggle to the point where your average reader identified deeply with the characters. The final image in this book is heart breaking. I only hope I have the guts to get "Persepolis 2" and read it cover to cover.

5-0 out of 5 stars deep, and honest
As an iranian who has lived in similar years as Marjane is talking about, I could totally relate to what she says...This book is so refreshing, deep, and at the same time simple ... I could not put it down, and forced my self to read less so I would not have to wait too long for the second volume to come out... But no, I finished too fast and I'm waiting now... maybe I could start reading the french version... ... Read more


14. Too Close to the Falls
by Catherine Gildiner
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014200040X
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 51063
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Welcome to the childhood of Catherine McClure Gildiner. It is the mid-1950s in Lewiston, New York, a sleepy town near Niagara Falls. Divorce is unheard of, mothers wear high heels to the beauty salon, and television has only just arrived.

At the tender age of four, Cathy accompanies Roy, the deliveryman at her father's pharmacy, on his routes. She shares some of their memorable deliveries-sleeping pills to Marilyn Monroe (in town filming Niagara), sedatives to Mad Bear, a violent Tuscarora chief, and fungus cream to Warty, the gentle operator of the town dump. As she reaches her teenage years,

Cathy's irrepressible spirit spurs her from dangerous sled rides that take her "too close to the Falls" to tipsy dances with the town priest.

"Anyone who appreciates a good story, well told, will find it in Too Close to the Falls." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Gildiner beautifully portrays her outrageous youth through the innocent, yet sometimes frighteningly worldly eyes of a child." (The Quill & Quire)
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Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars It would be perfect for your book group
Oh, what a yummy treat! This was my era, too: childhood in the 50s, a time when men worked and learned to barbecue, woman baked and played bridge, and children ran free in a world that was threatened by Communism from without but was seen as safe from within. Of course, all is not as safe as it appeared - but that doesn't dilute the hilarity of this tale. A coming-of-age memoir by a gifted story-teller, Too Close to the Falls is told in the child's voice - her world seen through her eyes - but as a microcosm of a larger world with dark woods and threating waterfalls at the edges.
Don't miss it. Read it, laugh, think about it more deeply, then share it with a friend.

5-0 out of 5 stars A view of a quaint era from the viewpoint of a unique child.
I don't read much non-fiction, but I received this book as a gift and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author describes her unconvential childhood growing up near Niagara Falls, NY. Today, Gildiner would probably be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, but back then, she was put to work in her father's drugstore at age four to burn off some of her "excess eneregy"--her doctor's orders! As Gildiner describes her experiences from pre-school through her teen years, she talks in the voice of the child she was then rather than the adult she is now. Her style is extremely effective in transporting the reader into her past life, a life that seems to have been both bewildering and magnificent at the same time. There is something for everyone here: television, racial conflicts, religious questioning, teen sexuality, Hollywood, and much more in this unique view of the "Leave it to Beaver" era.

5-0 out of 5 stars An unconventional childhood
Catherine Gildiner, a clinical psychologist and advice columnist, has written a fascinating memoir about her years growing up in Lewiston NY in the 50s. As a hyperactive and precocious child of four, she was put to work in her father's pharmacy under "doctor's orders." Her unconventional upbringing by older, free-thinking parents, who gave her a lot of leeway to think for herself and take responsibility for her actions, contrasted sharply with her stringent Catholic school education. Gildiner deftly uses her psychology training to show how young Cathy perceived herself and others, and how she struggled to peel through the layers of social and religious convention to see small-town Lewiston as it really was.

The author does an excellent job of painting portraits of the people that influenced her life. These include her mother, a very atypical 50s housewife who never cooked or kept house, her hard working civic-minded father, and Roy, the black pharmacy deliveryman who took Cathy on his rounds. Through her prescription deliveries, Cathy met Warty, a disfigured outcast who worked at the garbage dump, Mad Bear, the chief of the Tuscarora Indian tribe, and Marie, a retired prostitute/abortionist. Cathy bumped heads with an assortment of classmates, nuns, and priests at school and church.

This is a wonderful coming of age story that is poignant and thought-provoking. There were many humorous touches as Cathy described the world through an innocent child's eyes. There was also a dark side to this memoir as she puzzled over the disturbing and often contradictory elements of society that were often kept under wraps during that era. Having grown up in western New York in the 50s, I recognized many of the details of Cathy's childhood, such as beef on weck, early TV programming with its frequent test patterns, the use of fluoroscopes in shoe stores, and the severe lake effect snow storms in the area. This book makes an excellent selection for a discussion group, and the paperback edition includes a reader's guide for that very purpose.

Eileen Rieback

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant recall of thoughts and feelings
I was there during the '50's, although I did not know the author, I did know the characters and places she describes so well. How in the world she remembers her reactions so clearly--as a concrete-thinking child her conclusions are so funny to us as adults--yet we remember making similar absurd conclusions as children, and accepting them. Both versions available from amazon, I prefer the version with the authentic names and locations. I would give anything for another book of hers--it is her memory and writing, not the events, that are so endearing.

5-0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK!
This book was an absolute delight to read. It has the innocence and laugh-out-loud humor of a child's perpective.

From the intelligently quirky mother to Warty, the self-appointed caretaker of the city dump, all of the characters ring true. And after just a few sentences Gildiner has you feeling like you really know them.

And then there's the main character, the author as a child, who basically grew up in her father's drug store. It's a miracle she lived long enough, given her adventures and attitude, to write the book. Lucky for us she did.

Each chapter is a short-story unto itself, a la Jean Shepherd. And there just aren't enough of them. After 350 pages you're left feeling cheated because there aren't 350 more.

Read this book. ... Read more


15. The Privilege of Youth: A Teenager's Story of Longing for Acceptance and Friendship
by Dave Pelzer
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0525947698
Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
Publisher: Dutton Books
Sales Rank: 5553
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The #1 New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author who is a shining example of what overcoming adversity really means now shares the final stage of his uplifting journey that has touched the lives of millions.

From A Child Called "It" to The Lost Boy, from A Man Named Dave to Help Yourself, Dave Pelzer's inspirational books have helped countless others triumph over hardship and misfortune. In The Privilege of Youth, he supplies the missing chapter of his life: as a boy on the threshold of adulthood. With his usual sensitivity and insight, he recounts the relentless taunting he endured from bullies; but he also describes the joys of learning and the thrill of making his first real friends-some of whom he still shares close relationships with today. He writes about the simple pleasures of exploring a neighborhood he was just beginning to get to know while trying to forget the hell waiting for him at home.

From high school to a world beyond the four walls that were his prison for so many years, The Privilege of Youth charts this crucial turning point in Dave Pelzer's life. This brave and compassionate memoir from the man who has journeyed far will inspire a whole new generation of readers.
* A Child Called "It" has sold more than three million copies.
* The Lost Boy has sold more than two million copies.
* A Man Named Dave has sold more than 1.5 million copies.
* The three books have spent more than ten years combined on The New York Times bestseller list.
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Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Highly Entertaining!
This book should silence those who claim that Pelzer is only successful because of the shock value to be had in reading about his sadistic mother.
This book proves that he really can write.
The reviewer Lori Wasson states that she expected to read more details about the foster system. Well Pelzer has already written that great book and it is called
"The Lost Boy"
This book is very funny though tragic in the beginning. Pelzer for the first time stays away from repeating scenes of horror from his early life and tells some tales of happiness and mischief in his teenage years.
This is not dull but highly entertaining and it is also wonderful for loyal former readers of his books to read about David having some fun.
It is inspiring and thought provoking to see how much joy he takes in simple things, especially when we know the reason why and it makes a person want to follow his example and be more grateful for the simple pleasures most of us experience daily.
But maybe that sounds boring? This book isn't boring, it's funny and a great read. I would especially recommend it to mothers of sons, who want to know what it is like to be a preteen/teen boy. It gives an insight into what they are thinking about and what excites them. I have a four year old boy who is already obsessed by things with wheels so this book warned me about what I may be in for in the future.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not the best book
This book is about Dave's late high school years, while he was in the foster care system. This book talks about some friends that have helped him through some tough times.

I thought this book would talk more about his experiences and feelings about the foster care system, which we were initially led to believe. But the book turned out to be more of a "guy" book, talking about his adventures and mishaps with his friends. This might be interesting to teenage boys, but for a broader audience, this book didn't seem as interesting. The experiences in foster care didn't really seem to come through as much.

The book seemed to ramble on and on about certain points and seemed to go off in a tangent at times. As a result, the book became a little boring. I also didn't care for some of the foul language in the book, which to me, often detracts from the point that the book is trying to get across.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling
This is by far simply one of the most compelling books I have read to date. As are all of the David pelzer series of stories he has written that deals with abuse. I also want to mention a couple of other must read books along with Mr. Pelzers books. BEAUTY FOR ASHES and NIGHTMARES ECHO. Not only will you gain and understand of what the child/teen goes through, but it will make you more aware of what is going on around us. ... Read more


16. Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger
by Nigel Slater
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1592400906
Catlog: Book (2004-10-07)
Publisher: Gotham Books
Sales Rank: 4126
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Book Description

A deliciously evocative story of childhood in 1960s suburban England from one of theUnited Kingdom’s best-loved writers, Nigel Slater

Toast is the truly extraordinary story of a childhood remembered through food. In eachchapter, as Nigel Slater takes us on a tour of the contents of his family’s pantry—rice pudding,tinned ham, cream soda, mince pies, lemon drops, bourbon biscuits—we are transported…

His mother is a chops-and-peas sort of cook, exasperated by the highs and lows of atemperamental stove, a finicky little son, and the asthma that would prove fatal. His father is ahoney-and-crumpets man with an unpredictable temper. When he is widowed, Nigel’s fathertakes on a housekeeper with social aspirations and a talent in the kitchen and the following yearsbecome a heartbreaking cooking contest for his affections. As he slowly loses, Nigel finds a newoutlet for his culinary gifts and we witness the birth of a lifelong passion for food. Nigel’s likesand dislikes, aversions and sweet-toothed weaknesses, form a fascinating backdrop to thisexceptionally moving memoir of childhood, adolescence, and sexual awakening.

With a new preface and glossary for American readers, this British bestseller and nationalaward winner is sure to delight foodies and memoir enthusiasts on this side of the pond.Possessed of the subtlety and wit of Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone and thedisarming frankness of Anthony Bourdain’s page-turning Kitchen Confidential,Toast is a treat to be savored. ... Read more


17. Where Rivers Change Direction
by Mark Spragg
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573228257
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Sales Rank: 17904
Average Customer Review: 4.96 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Growing up in rural Wyoming, Mark Spragg learned early to read the stars. At 11 he was instructed to quit dreaming, and he went to work for his father on the land. "I was paid thirty dollars a month, had my own bed in the bunkhouse, and three large, plain meals each day." The ranch is a sprawling place where winter brings months of solitude and summer brings tourists from the real world--city types who want a taste of the outdoors and stare at the author and his family as if they were members of some exotic tribe: "Our guests were New Jersey gas station owners, New York congressmen, Iowa farmers, judges, actors, plumbers, Europeans who had read of Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull and came to experience the American West, the retired, the just beginning." By the age of 14, he and his younger brother are leading them on camping trips into deep woods. "No one ever asked why we had no televisions, no daily paper. They came for what my brother and I took for granted. They came to live the anachronism that we considered our normal lives."

As Spragg comes to realize the strangeness of his life, he also detects flaws in his own character--a fear of suffering and mortality that first shows itself when he rides a sick horse too hard, until the animal hovers at the brink of death. He knows that if he had faced the possibility of sickness, if he had been brave, this animal would not have declined so quickly. Throughout his life, this inability to face death, this terror of losing the beauty of the world he so passionately witnesses, drives Spragg to distraction.

Where Rivers Change Direction combines a soaring spirituality with a visceral, often stomach-churning attention to detail. It's a book that continually dares the reader to turn away from its pages in an effort to digest the power of its confused emotions and hauntingly spare images (a "moon-fried plain," a stillborn child "baked alive in my mother's body"). Like Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard, Mark Spragg's memoir makes you feel you've been somewhere, you've been out in the depths, and you've come back changed. --Emily White ... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wyoming, like no place on earth
The book was given to me as a gift, little did I know that I was about to relive my child hood, my youth, my fifty plus years on the high plains of Wyoming. The smell of horse farts in the early dawn, cold feet, till there is no longer pain. Getting a case of 22 shells for Christmas, birthday, and wearing out the gun . Mark has finnaly writen a book of "how the west is" at least the last 50 years. To see death as an almost constant player, hunting, calving, blizzards, drunk driving, fast cars, all part of Wyoming. The country school, first love, almost social retardation. 60 miles from town is a long way, few people can stand the loneness. Twenty years behind the times, still is a good place to be in 2000, May Mark Spragg share more of his life with us , in many more books to come,as his works touch a nerve few authors today can.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spraggs book has something for everyone.
I will reccomend the book "Where rivers change direction" to all my friends. It is easy to read and at the same time extremely powerful. If he comes to your town for a book reading, go see him. Mark Spragg stories come to life when he reads them. I can hardly wait for November to see him at Aunties in Spokane.

5-0 out of 5 stars Men & Horses: A fun and engaging romp growing up in Wyoming
Where Rivers Change Direction is the engaging story of Mark's journey to manhood on a working Wyoming dude ranch in the 1960's. This is a place outside the world of televisions and flashy cars. Life is his regular classroom, and a boy has to grow up quickly in order to endure and survive in the harsh realities of the wilderness. The responsibility that Mark both endures and earns for himself, gives him his character. It is easy to trust his voice and experiences, including the silent moments as he imagines himself as a horse alongside the other horses, testing his breath in the cold air. Mark's words match his imagination, giving us a taste of what it is like to be a horse in Wyoming. Rivers can change direction when dammed up by man, or they can follow the contour of the earth they cut through every day, changing themselves. The river of the title is about Mark's life, and this memoir leads just through the point where he changes direction. I wouldn't have missed a turn.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb!
I read Spragg's Fruit Of Stone and was disappointed with the silly plot. The writing, however, convinced me to try Where Rivers Change Direction. It is a magnificent book in all respects. Buy this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars As Good as They Say
I read Spragg's novel, "Fruit of Stone," first, and was left rather cold. I'm glad I ventured forth with "Where Rivers Change Direction" because it is truly brilliant.

This is a writer who can burnish a sentence the way a saddlemaker polishes leather--the love of craft is obvious, and the end result is a quiet elegance that is breathtaking. He loves the passive verbs...so do I. The stately passivity take the wildness of ranch life from the hands of "action packed" Hemingway types and snares it in amber. Posterity over posturing? Sure, I'll take that!

He's capable of being thoughtful, brash, graphic, elegiac, and, at times, pretty funny. I adored "Wapiti School," wherein he nails Candy Dohse, his first true love, right on the forehead with a snowball during recess. He even put a pebble in the snowball first. Ah, young love!

There's no riders in purple sage, crazy saloon whores, shootouts, chuckwagons, or wacky Western shenanigans, and the "New West, worse than the Old West" place dysphoria/post-mod malaise is absent, as well. What you have instead is Spragg's life--from youth to maturity--carved away from the bone as if by a hunter's skilled hand. Okay, that was a (poor) attempt at a Spraggy sentence. So, don't read me...read him! ... Read more


18. Please Stop Laughing at Me: One Woman's Inspirational Story
by Jodee Blanco
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1580628362
Catlog: Book (2003-03-01)
Publisher: Adams Media Corporation
Sales Rank: 25188
Average Customer Review: 3.65 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

While other kids were daydreaming about dances, first kisses, and college, Jodee Blanco was just trying to figure out how to get from homeroom to study hall without being taunted or spit upon as she walked through the halls.

This powerful, unforgettable memoir chronicles how one child was shunned—and sometimes physically abused—by her classmates from elementary school through high school. It is an unflinching look at what it means to be the outcast, how even the most loving parents can get it all wrong, why schools are often unable to prevent disaster, and how bullying has been misunderstood and mishandled by the mental health community.

You will be shocked, moved, and ultimately inspired by this harrowing tale of survival against insurmountable odds. This vivid story will open your eyes to the harsh realities and long-term consequences of bullying—and how all of us can make a difference in the lives of teens today. ... Read more

Reviews (51)

4-0 out of 5 stars More than inspirational
While Please Stop Laughing at Me is inspirational, it is also a book that is important enough to be read by school teachers and administration. Much of what Ms. Blanco describes in her book still goes on today. And sometimes even teachers are the bullies. While Ms. Blanco went on to a great career, others who were bullied may be self-destructive, and even commit suicide. I believe that it is comitting soul murder to bully someone, to make their life hell - a dictionary defines bully as an abuser - and no one deserves to be abused in order to "toughen up." Many today still consider bullying a 'rite of passage.' Research shows that young bullies (and it starts young) often grow up to be big bullies - those who bully (abuse) their children and spouses. If any parent still believes that bullying is just a "boys will be boys thing" here's a question: Would you like for your daughter to marry one? Would you like your grandchildren raised by one? Here's a question for school personnel: If bullying isn't so bad, would you like your son or daughter to work for a bully? Would YOU like working for, or with, a bully? It behooves us all to read Ms. Blanco's book, and to do some research on the effects bullying has on a child. Instead of "toughening them up," it often destroys them emotionally.

5-0 out of 5 stars it was very good!
This is a wonderful book. I am a victim of bullying also. I found this book very interesting. I found that Jodee had a lot of the same feelings I had when my problem was at its peak. The bad reviewers did have some good points. But all in all I think most of them didn't have the experiance and knowledge to say what they had to say. For one, yes it is very believable that that Jodee was picked on because of the dissabled people she helped. I was! And it was inspriring because it taught me that I really can do whatever I want, and Jodee is a very nice person I have emailed her before and got very nice replies from her more than once. Like I said, the people that gave it bad reviews did have some good points, but all in all I think that it was an awsome book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Stay Away
This book was awful! I had to read it for a book club and it couldn't be more exagerated. Blanco claims to be bullied and harrased yet never gives reasons as to why she is treated so poorly. This book is not at all realistic for a true story.
The author herself claimed that her book was rejected 30 some times by publishers, you would think that she would realize that perhaps her book sucked, but she didn't get the message. I am writing this to give the message to all the readers considering this book, move on don't waste your time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Helpful Information for Educators in Blanco's book
Jodee Blanco is a tremendous writer. Her conversational style in Please Stop Laughing At Me... is comfortable and allows the reader to jump right into the story alongside her. While I find it hard to believe that everything she wrote was EXACTLY the way it happened all those years ago, it is obvious that the torment she went through during her childhood was insurmountable. I can't say that I was ever the victim of bullying or that I was a bully myself, but I have been in that complacent observer category, upset of other's bullying but unable to stick up for the victim. I think this book is a good read for bullies and observers (like myself), to show them what the victims are really going through.

While the descriptions of her victimizations were striking, I think the most effective and helpful part of the book was the final chapters, when Blanco returns to her high school for a reunion. Although I find some elements a little farfetched and Hollywood, I do believe that Blanco's bullies really didn't realize how harsh they had been to her. This last part is what I feel would be where the victims of bullying should concentrate when reading. It shows that their tormentors may not even realize what they are doing to them, and--in a silent way--encourages them to stand up for themselves when a situation occurs.

I would especially recommend Please Stop Laughing At Me... to those in the education professions--teachers, principals, aides--because they are the ones who witness children and young adults interacting with their peers the most often. Blanco's advice to these administrators that she gives in this book is not what many people would think at first, but is sage advice from a bullying survivor. Blanco tours schools, giving riveting presentations to students on the effects of bullying, providing them with advice and hope. Her website has more information about her touring schedule and how to contact her. She is a real-life Cinderella story!

1-0 out of 5 stars !!! Cry Me A River !!!
I am not trying to be cruel, but this book was a load of bull. I personally would not EVER read "Please Stop Laughing At Me" again in my life. Sure, I guess I pity Ms. Blanco for having to go through all of that as a kid, because no one should be forced into that situation. But her claiming to be 'friends with the blind kids and the special ed. kids' was a little hard to swallow. I wouldn't know, I wasn't born yet. The whole book just seemed to me to be a rather loud whine for pity. Or maybe it was written to releave her of her 'anger'. Either way, it was poorly written: maybe Ms. Blanco WAS good at making speeches, but she obviously is not good at making books. I just can't beleive that the publishers would allow such a stupid and pointless book to go through the writing process, let alone encourage her to write another. If I saw another book by Jodee Blanco at a bookstore, I would deffinately not buy it, no matter what the topic. ... Read more


19. The Unwanted: A Memoir of Childhood
by Kien Nguyen
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316284610
Catlog: Book (2002-04-08)
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Sales Rank: 68202
Average Customer Review: 4.73 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Kien Nguyen grew up an outsider in his native land. His once prosperous family, thrust into poverty at the dawn of a new political regime, lived among neighbors who treated them as an unwelcome remnant of the colonialist past. Kien himself, a child of mixed race (his father was American), was among the most unwanted.

Told with a stark, poetic brilliance, Kien's account of his early years-from the fall of Saigon, when at age eight he watched the last U.S. Army helicopter leave without him and his family, to his eventual escape-is a work of profound emotional resonance, at once harrowing and inspiring. The Unwanted unforgettably records a universal human experience played out in extreme circumstances: the forging of an identity, a life. ... Read more

Reviews (44)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great story!
Like many others who have left comments about this book, I too finished it in less than 24 hours. I found it difficult to put down.

I am finally thrilled to read a story such as this one. The struggle and journey to freedom for many Vietnamese refugees has not been documented enough. My family and I were fortunate to flee from Vietnam in 1975 during the fall of Saigon. My journey to freedom was less harrowing and uneventful than the author's. However, my other friends who fled the country during the second wave of the Vietnamese influx to the US in 1979 told me of bone-chilling tales of their trek to a far better life in the States.

The tragedies and misfortunes of some refugees who flee Vietnam in boats include harsh weather, a lack of food and water which ultimately leads to starvation, boat engine failures that cripples some boats to drift aimlessly in the Pacific and finally sea pirates and bandits who board these vessels to steal peoples' only possessions while raping some of the women and children. Indeed, these stories are true and more or less remain undocumented to the general public.

I am thrilled to know that stories like this one are now being told.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Moving, Haunting, Disturbing, but Worthy Read
Once in awhile, a really good book that comes along to haunt me for days. This is the case with Kien Nguyen's memoir "The Unwanted." The book is very sad, dark, and disturbing from beginning to end. The only thing that prevents me from falling into an abyss of despair is a glimmer of hope in the final chapter of the book when his family was boarding an airplane to leave Vietnam. It is not an easy read. But it is a worthy read; it is one of the best books I have read about Vietnam. His book reminds me of Jung Chang's monumental work "The Wild Swans" and Nien Cheng's haunting memoir "Life and Death in Shanghai." It reminds me of an extraordinarily well-written and moving article on the Wall Street Journal published in 1999 to mark the 20 years anniversary of the fall of Pol Pot in Cambodia... The book also reminds me of my own experience last year walking through the prison cells and death chambers at the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp which was left intact as it was at the end of WWII... As I was standing there, I had flashbacks of my own experience in a Communist prison. All of these experiences force me think about the meanings of Fascism, Communism, human mistreatment, and human dignity. Kien Nguyen's memoir also reminds me of my own best friends in first grade - Amerasian twin brothers... Kien Nguyen's book has provided me an answer. Having been jailed at a prison in Kien Nguyen's hometown and having left Vietnam through the ODP program, I was particularly impressed with his accurate descriptions of the prison, the building, the people, and the troubles one had to go through in order to leave Vietnam. I have a great admiration for Kien who has the courage to write this book that really captures the essence of life in Vietnam during those years. His book is an excellent that will keep you awake at night turning the pages. I like it so much that I order one copy for my home library so in case later my children ask me about Vietnam... "The Unwanted" gets five stars and "Two Thumbs Up" recommendation from me!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Beyond description!
This is one of the most amazing memoirs that I have ever had the pleasure to read. I was touched by each obstacle that came in Kien's way and experienced feelings I rarely feel when reading a book. I devoured it in 4 days and it left me wanting more. It provoked thoughts in me that would have never entered my mind while continually reminding me how strong the human will can be. One of my favorite things about reading this book was they way Kien writes objectively, giving you possible other points of view of actions happening to and around him. He helps you, the reader, to consider other ways of interpreting the events, reminding you of how far he has come from those events.
I will recommend this to everyone I know!

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST Read
Extraordinary. I couldn't put it down. Few of us know about the atrocities ordinary Vietnamese citizens suffered after U.S. soldiers departed - especially the Asian/Caucasian children left behind. Kien Nguyen's tale is haunting. Representation of 'triumph over tragedy' in the purest form. I wish the author well.....

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I loved reading this book, and I continue to recommend it to others. I must admit, some of the details seem to be unbelievable (i.e. I can't remember much of my life at the age of 6, but then again, I might have a really bad memory compared to others), but the book's message is unforgettable. ... Read more


20. Charred Souls: A Story of Recreational Child Abuse
by Trena Cole, Madelaine Pinkus-Rohn, Hope Chema
list price: $16.95
our price: $15.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 097235350X
Catlog: Book (2002-10-04)
Publisher: Oberpark Publishing Inc.
Sales Rank: 43939
Average Customer Review: 4.81 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Charred Souls describes the childhood of one child and her 6 siblings as they grew up in a family that used child abuse as a source of entertainment. In her book, she describes the methods of intimidation, torture and isolation used to keep the children from seeking help from others. It also describes how, since much of the extended family practiced the same type of abusive behavior, the children assumed the whole world lived this way. This family, while they may have been reported as potential child abusers, were never charged or prosecuted despite the atrocious, sadistic torture they subjected their young children to. Trena, the oldest child, became the parental role model, nurturer and caretaker for the younger children from the age of five, never having anyone to nurture or care for her. ... Read more

Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Stongly recommended for citizens, parents and professionals
Paradoxically the very things that make Charred Souls: A Story of Recreational Child Abuse  by Trena Cole perplexing for an academic reviewer are the strong points that make the book well worth the read. The author does not offer a theoretical perspective on chid abuse and, other than concluding that her parents abused her because they enjoyed it, she does not seek to explain it. The authenticity of the descriptions are wrenching as the author relates horrendous accounts of brutal, humiliating, chronic abuse of a young girl's first eighteen years of life. It goes far beyond what even the most skilled Munchausen patient could concoct. Yet the tone of the writing is refreshing for the absence of self-serving and indignant claims. Throughout, the author is telling the reader what happened. The writing will be hard to discredit for even the most skilled of those who seem to want to deny the existence of abuse of the kind Ms. Cole experienced.

At the author's therapist's suggestion, she called it "recreational abuse", i.e., done for fun, kicks, and recreation. For the fun of seeing their children's terror, the parents drive out in the country and abandon the children. The children are made to witness one of their pet dogs shot with the threat that the killing is a justified punishment for disobedient dogs and children. The most severe beatings and toxic humiliations were daily affairs. At age six, the author was forced to work in a store for fifty-cents a day which was turned over to the mother as her share of help to support the family. Years later, the author learned that the man in the store was an already known child molester when she started work there. He sexually abused her while she was employed at the restaurant starting when he insisted on examining her to prove that she was not a boy since boys were not allowed to work at the store. The author concluded that her mother enjoyed her daughter's anguished pleas to quit the job. There is an eye opening description of her punitive, involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. The palliative and positive effects of an all too short stay with a foster family lead her to the first realization that not all adults were like her parents. As early as age four she was charged with the care of what became six siblings. Her caring attempts to protect them were carried out at a high price. In a later section of the book the author discusses the dilemma posed by the life saving admonition that "If you are going to make it a double drowning, don't go in".

Reading this book provides a good look into a life of chronic and extreme abuse and neglect, their effects and the author's struggles to overcome them.

The conspicuous absence of intervention throughout the author's childhood by anyone in a position of authority during the less enlightened 1950s and 1960s is no less forgivable than is the blatant under resourcing of children's protective services today  at a time when we supposedly know better. In the current "killing the chickens because we won't wait for eggs" economy, we can pay now or pay more later. The current costs of having over two million Americans in jail (a higher rate of incarceration than any other "developed country") gives one clue to the price of indifference and the lack of prevention. In economic terms Charred Souls gives an excellent view of the human cost. While Ms. Coles very survival is miraculous, it is important for the reader to be mindful of the fact that thousands of American children are not so fortunate and suffer truly lifelong unrepairable damage or worse.

I cannot imagine that anyone could read this book and not be deeply moved and troubled. Thus, I strongly recommend its reading, for ordinary citizens and parents, and for those professionals involved in the protection, care and treatment of our children.

Roderick Durkin, Ph.D...

5-0 out of 5 stars A true miracle of survival
I found this book to be heartbreaking, inspirational and disturbing. It is heartbreaking that Trena Cole was abused so horribly by the people who should have been giving her love, comfort and support. Even her grandmother, one of the least villianous, provided sanctity from other abusers at a price, thus the name "Grandma Fagan."

It was inspirational that; after surviving the humiliation, torture, and chaos; she was able to become a nurturing parent and a successful person. Statistically, she should have become an alcoholic, a drug abuser and/or a prostitute. I truly admire you Trena.

Lastly, it is disturbing that she, or any child, should ever have to endure what she did. I was disturbed by the language that was used toward her and her siblings. How could a child develop any self-esteem when subjected to the constant verbal abuse and humiliation? I guess the thing that disturbs me as much as these children being put through this, is that children are continuing to be subjected to this today.

I wish that everyone could read this book to learn "what not to do" in raising a child. To quote another reviewer, it is a "knock the wind out of you" survivor story and is definitely "not for the squeamish."

Trena, I hope the remainder of your life is as good as your first twenty years were bad.

4-0 out of 5 stars Affecting Account of Dreadful Abuse
This is the heart-wrenching story of an alcoholic, dysfunctional white trash family, where babies were born like clockwork and then subjected on a constant basis to the vilest verbal and physical abuse. I hope everyone who is considering becoming a parent reads this book. This book may also sell more than a few "nannycams", as the sick, sadistic mother here also made a few dollars as a babysitter, subjecting her innocent charges to the same shameful abuses she employed to cripple her own children emotionally. I hope as well that poor Trena's beast of a mother, who I suspect is a narcissist as well as a born-again in complete denial, will read the reviews of her daughter's book here at Amazon and perhaps before her day of judgment realize what evil she perpetrated along with her equally depraved and sadistic husband. I am forced to deduct one star for the extreme editorial sloppiness displayed in this paperback from Oberpark Publishing Inc. of Indianapolis. Apparently there is no one in that city who has ever cracked the cover of a Chicago Manual of Style or Strunk & White's Elements of Style if this sorry edition is any evidence, as grammatical and punctuation errors abound here on every page. To cite just one example, "it's" is used throughout as the possessive form of "it". Trena Cole's story deserves much better support than this, and I hope Oberpark or another publisher will rise to the challenge in a future edition.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mystery To Me
Why people enjoy torturing, manipulating and mistreating children is a mystery to me. What kind of victory do adults feel by bullying the small and defenseless? I used to say jokingly, on a bad day with my children, "I'll never condone child abuse, but some days I can almost understand it." After reading Charred Souls, I will never say that again, it's not funny anymore. I had never heard the term 'recreational child abuse' until I saw this book and that's exactly what Trena, and her brothers and sisters, lived with. If I were a vengeful person I'd say it would be fitting for those parents, and a few extended family members, to have to live the way those kids did for just one year. But I'm not vengeful and they probably still wouldn't admit the error of their ways anyway, child abusers almost never do.

Trena Cole did a wonderful job making me feel as though I was there with her while she lived through the abuse she was dealt in life. I'm glad she told, I wish more survivors did. The author describes the way the children were cussed at and smacked at all day, every day. It seemed like the children enraged the adults just by being there. They were either enraged and attacking the children, or they were torturing them for fun. Recreational child abuse, who could have put a finger on that one? Trena Cole's therapist. Who would have thought someone would have to come up with a name for such mistreatment? That bunch of sick pillars of the community who had seven kids and abused them emotionally, physically, mentally, verbally and permanently! I have to believe they knew exactly what they were doing and I also believe they will never admit that what they did was deplorable. I would recommend this book to anyone. It's definitely five star material.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review
This book is amazing! I couldn't imagine anyone else went through what I did. The comparisons are bone-chilling...The author makes you feel like you are watching as she describes the situations that plagued her childhood. This is a sad story, but I have faith that it will help a lot of people. It is a battle worth fighting to awaken awareness about child abuse. ... Read more


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