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REBELS WITH A CAUSE

REIMAGINING BOYS, OURSELVES, AND OUR CULTURE

A thoughtful, well-informed look at contemporary boy culture and its many inherent problems.

The importance of nurturing connection in boys.

Way, a professor of developmental psychology and the author of Deep Secrets, draws on considerable research, including her own longitudinal studies into the lives of boys, to show how society’s construction of “boy culture” undermines their well-being. That culture, she writes, “is rooted in ideologies that intersect with one another, including but not limited to patriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy, antisemitism, and Islamophobia.” As boys grow up, they learn that “soft” qualities, such as “vulnerability, dependency, sensitivity, feeling,” are associated with the feminine, while “stoicism, independence, assertiveness, thinking” are considered male. The author shows how this insistent binary gets in the way of fulfilling friendships. The early- to mid-adolescent boys she studied valued friendships, which were characterized by trust and involved sharing secrets and problems. However, by late adolescence, holding onto or finding male friends became a struggle. Although boys know that friendships are crucial for their mental health, they are indoctrinated into believing that “it’s not ‘normal’ for boys to want or have such relationships,” and they learn that showing emotion is considered unmanly. Boys at this stage, writes the author, become increasingly isolated, depressed, and angry, in some cases leading them to suicide or even homicide. Way also demonstrates how the media abets these feelings of loneliness and disconnection. She suggests that “listening with curiosity” is a crucial first step to addressing the crisis of connection in all settings: the workplace, the classroom, and the home. “Nurturing our relational and emotional intelligence,” she writes, is “necessary to disrupt a culture that brings out the worst in us and makes us treat ourselves and one another poorly and sometimes even makes us kill ourselves and/or kill each other.”

A thoughtful, well-informed look at contemporary boy culture and its many inherent problems.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593184264

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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