An inspiringly intense memoir for readers of adventure lit.

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ALONE ON THE WALL

A much-honored climber’s exciting story of the death-defying feats that led to rock-climbing superstardom.

Honnold showed a predilection for climbing when he was still a small child. At age 5, he managed to scramble 30 feet off the ground at a climbing gym within just a few minutes. Later, he entered climbing competitions all over his home state of California. After his father died, Honnold dropped out of college and chose to live out of his mother’s minivan while climbing mountains. This book—which alternates between narratives by Honnold and writer/climber Roberts (Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest, 2015, etc.)—focuses on that remarkable and unconventional life and how Honnold, a quiet man who climbed purely for the joy of adventure, became “the most famous climber in the world” in the span of seven years. In his early days as a vagabond climber, he learned how to free solo, a form of climbing that relies on strength and skill alone. Not long after that, Honnold began attempting climbs—such as Half Dome in Yosemite and Sendero Luminoso in Mexico—that veterans of the sport believed were too difficult to do without gear or a partner. His notoriety spread quickly among rock climbers. Rapidly, Honnold became the subject of several documentaries and was receiving sponsorships that allowed him to travel the world and push the boundaries of his sport to extreme new heights. His dedication to the sport of rock climbing had its costs, however, including the painful end of a long-term relationship. Yet celebrity status also reinforced his belief in the importance of living simply. In 2012, he established the Honnold Foundation, which sought “sustainable ways to improve lives worldwide.” The humility, pioneering spirit, and courage that are the author’s personal hallmarks are both refreshing and invigorating. His account ultimately reminds readers how genuine fulfillment comes only when engaging in life fully and without fear.

An inspiringly intense memoir for readers of adventure lit.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-24762-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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