An often charming but slight literary artifact, capturing a writer early in his career.



Novelist and true-crime writer Borowitz (Death Play, 2016, etc.) shares an autobiography that he wrote during a precocious adolescence.

The author, who was born in 1930, has written books and practiced law for decades, but this memoir doesn’t portray those years of experience and observation. Instead, it captures a young boy’s view of his own life; Borowitz says that he likely wrote it when he was about 13, possibly for a school assignment, and kept it ever since. After an opening that relates his family’s emigration from Central and Eastern Europe to Chicago, the author’s birthplace, he tells of his infant years and his development into an inquisitive child. As one might expect from a teen’s memoir, the book and its chapters are brief, favoring short observations over more intensive examination of the author or his surroundings. One chapter offers an account of his time as an ambivalent camper, surrounded by much more enthusiastic participants at Wisconsin’s Camp Menominee, while another describes the thrill of his first plane ride. Borowitz’s boyhood coincided with World War II, and he provides a unique, youthful perspective, sharing his confusion, for example, that a 1938 newspaper headline, “Nazi Escape from Justice Seen,” didn’t refer to a jailbreak. His authorial voice is often appealingly wry and self-aware, providing a funny portrait of a cautious, smart, and somewhat hapless child in a world of strong personalities. Borowitz writes charmingly of his first-grade art projects: “I had no respect for the anatomy of the body in my drawings, and my characters often appeared in positions which even contortionists would consider impossible.” The charm gradually lessens, however, during a lengthy closing chapter on the Borowitz family’s Mexico trip, which reads like a string of names and places, much like a student’s report on how he spent his summer. Overall, the book is clearly the work of a clever young writer, and it’s no surprise that Borowitz grew into a successful author. That said, it still essentially reads like a teenager’s school assignment, and therefore its target audience, beyond the author’s friends and family, is unclear.

An often charming but slight literary artifact, capturing a writer early in his career.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 140

Publisher: ATBOSH Media Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2017

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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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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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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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