With a tone that is more evocative than provocative, Busch meaningfully celebrates value where it goes unseen by others.

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NOTES ON INVISIBILITY IN A TIME OF TRANSPARENCY

The joys of hiding from a cyberculture seeking to monitor your every move.

Despite the subtitle, these are by no means “notes” but rather fully formed and often powerful explorations of the many realms and levels of invisibility to which one might aspire or withdraw. Busch (Design Research/School of Visual Arts; The Incidental Steward, 2013, etc.) starts in the woods, the narrative beginning like a meditation on going “off the grid.” Yet she veers in less predictable directions, abandoning Alexa and the like for an inquiry into children’s literature, the persistence of invisibility within it, and the value of having an imaginary friend—which, it turns out, may not be that different than the digital friendships adults cultivate. This analysis inevitably leads to social media and the persistent pressure to be noticed by others, to risk “Facebook depression, one result of this ceaseless exposure…the anxiety induced by social comparisons and the feeling of being less attractive or accomplished than other users.” The author expounds on her suspicion that we’re doing things wrong, overemphasizing visibility and self-promotion and undervaluing the opposite, and she surveys the invisible in nature, the arts, identity, and soul. It “is not the equivalent of being nonexistent,” she writes, and subsequently elaborates, “it is nuanced, creative, sensitive, discerning.” Busch examines how erasure has functioned in art, from “erasure books” that add to the texts by subtracting words, to the ability of the flamboyant David Bowie to appear invisible as a public persona while walking the streets of New York and the refusal of the popular, pseudonymous Italian novelist Elena Ferrante to use identity, biography, and personality to market her novels. Where the assertion of one’s identity is concerned, Busch argues that less is more: “The measure of our humanity may be derived not from how we stand out in the world, but from the grace and concord with which we find our place in it.”

With a tone that is more evocative than provocative, Busch meaningfully celebrates value where it goes unseen by others.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-98041-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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