A sharply amusing fashion memoir.

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TALES FROM THE BACK ROW

AN OUTSIDER'S VIEW FROM INSIDE THE FASHION INDUSTRY

The editor of Cosmopolitan.com dishes on the world of haute couture and its “exclusivity, shameless self-promotion, and extreme ideals of what is and isn’t beautiful.”

In this collection of thoughts about her life as a fashion writer, Odell takes readers on a fun ride through an industry famous for its outlandishness. When she first began as a young fashion blogger for NYmag.com, the author quickly learned that she and her ilk were “like the global warming of the fashion industry—their impact only selectively acknowledged despite its undeniable existence.” As an unknown, she was relegated to the back row of fashion shows top-heavy with celebrities and egotism. She experimented with attention-getting—but sometimes frankly ridiculous—styles such as pink acid-wash shorts both on and off the job while learning about fashion forecasting from the likes of Li Edelkoort. Odell describes encounters with top designers like Rachel Zoe and Karl Lagerfeld that initially terrified her. Despite having to deal with ferociously protective assistants on the one hand and outrageous eccentricities on the other, her experiences with both left her feeling “delirious.” As Odell built her reputation, she caught the eye of Anna Wintour. The legendary Vogue editor interviewed her for a job that Odell characterizes as one for which she would have had to “[go] on valium every day just deciding what to wear every day.” Her rising status in the world of fashion blogging eventually led to a coveted invitation to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. There, she met with the impossibly gorgeous women at the heart of the brand’s success only to learn that “they, too, are as self-conscious as the rest of us.” Odell’s insight into what fashion tells us about ourselves is ultimately what makes her book so refreshing. As she observes, “the fashion industry, in many ways, is a study in how deeply we long to stand out in order to fit in.”

A sharply amusing fashion memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4975-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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