An inspiring and consistently witty entertainment memoir.

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TOO MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH

A MEMOIR OF FUMBLING TOWARD ADULTHOOD

A Grammy Award–winning actor and singer recalls his unique childhood and ascent to notoriety.

In a spirited debut saturated with personality and frank humor, Rannells tells the stories of his youth growing up as the fourth of five siblings in Omaha, Nebraska. The son of an advertising salesman and a former teen model, the author fostered his love of live theater by watching musicals from the 1940s and ’50s and by viewing the Tony Awards broadcast, which “was so much better than the movies; it was live!” Moving swiftly through the trajectory of his budding career, Rannells shares amusing anecdotes on his Midwestern upbringing, being taught “how to throw shade” by his grandma Josephine, becoming a busy “shameless entertainer” on the Omaha theater scene, and his timely decision to come out to his conservative parents mere days before moving to New York City in 1997 to study the arts. These chapters form a descriptive rainbow of personal mishaps as the author describes his sexual awakenings; having to endure priestly inappropriateness while he was a student at an all-boys Jesuit Catholic high school; meeting his best friend, Zuzanna, at an audition; nightclub adventures; and formative work at upstate New York summer stock. Despite a series of rude awakenings and rejections in the business—including an exhaustive tour with Pokemon Live!—Rannells, a model of persistence and dedication, ultimately found his footing and branched out toward a momentous Broadway debut in Hairspray in 2006. Later, he earned a Tony Award nomination for the originating role of Elder Price in The Book of Mormon. The author is a natural raconteur who engages readers with self-effacing honesty about his life’s great expectations and fumbles. His life story will be encouraging and inspirational particularly for theater buffs and readers pursuing a stage career, and musical fans will savor his enticingly told journey from awkward childhood to fame in the spotlight.

An inspiring and consistently witty entertainment memoir.

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-57485-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

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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