Required reading for education reformers seeking to broaden community connections and benefit minority constituencies.

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WON'T LOSE THIS DREAM

HOW AN UPSTART URBAN UNIVERSITY REWROTE THE RULES OF A BROKEN SYSTEM

An urban university strikes a determined path to improve the academic performance and graduation rates of minority students—and does much more in the bargain.

Georgia State University is scattered across several campuses in Atlanta, long a choice of black and Latino students who lacked the means to go to schools farther from home. It barely ranked among institutions of higher learning until, during the last financial crisis, the university’s president made it a priority to improve conditions, thereby earning what journalist Gumbel calls “a national reputation for its pioneering work in retaining large numbers of students.” One example is a young man who, though “poor, black, and struggling to make it as the first in their family to attend college,” earned a degree in computer science. GSU initiated reforms along several lines, including enhanced financial aid even in a time when an increasingly conservative legislature was reducing educational funding. The administration also took an activist position in identifying parts of the culture of higher education that automatically assumed that minority students would not succeed. In the process, the GSU administration not only recruited more minority students than ever before; they also saw them graduate in higher numbers than the national average. Money was part of the equation; so was raising the number of student advisers substantially and changing certain pedagogical methods. “Committed leadership is of course essential,” writes Gumbel of such transformations as the one evidenced by GSU. But it’s not enough: The faculty must be invested in the change, and university representatives impressed upon Georgians, including legislators, the thought that adding college graduates to the urban mix by way of cost-effective educational programs would improve the economy, offering “a solid return on investment and moral justice, economic growth and social mobility.” Drawing on extensive on-the-ground reporting, Gumbel offers a richly detailed narrative of how such changes are effected.

Required reading for education reformers seeking to broaden community connections and benefit minority constituencies.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62097-470-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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