A softness and a ribald honesty as well as the paintings and prose combine effectively in this appealing account.

READ REVIEW

THE WHORE NEXT DOOR

AN ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR

A child of the 1960s and ’70s recounts her road travels, family drama, and sexual exploration as she grows as a woman and a mother in this debut illustrated memoir.

In 1965 at the age of 18, Campbell left her family in Ithaca, New York, to move to Michigan with her boyfriend, forgoing plans for college and living in a single-room apartment next door to a knitting, baking, aging prostitute. This perfectly sets the tone for the author’s coming-of-age tale, a life lived impulsively and nontraditionally, filled with an eclectic cast of characters. They range from a financially lush but miserly “bum” living off saltines and a slow-talking apple picker to an R&B–loving magician, whose assistant was a mechanical frog, and even a couple of married virgins with terrifying rooms of pixielike dolls. Eager for sensual adventures, Campbell grappled with her own sexuality, her upbringing leaving her ill-informed during a time of supposedly free love. These struggles led her to an uninterested husband and later a musician boyfriend who was also a compulsive cheater. Along the way, she had two children, traveled extensively, and held myriad jobs, from house painting to waitressing to repairing antiques, eventually settling into farmwork. She ultimately found a man who fit into the life she constructed rather than one she had to build her ambitions and desires around. Each chapter of Campbell’s memoir opens with a colorful painting in a soft and warm style that captures some part of the anecdote that follows, either literally or in the abstract, splitting the difference between a graphic novel and an adult picture book. There is a bawdiness present in both the stories and illustrations, and the memoir is far from shy—its penchant for scatological humor is surprisingly satisfying. The narrative isn’t strictly linear, often jumping backward to the author’s youth to share some hilarious asides, from watching county fair strippers to getting stuck in a waste bin, that offer much-needed relief after more emotional chapters.

A softness and a ribald honesty as well as the paintings and prose combine effectively in this appealing account.

Pub Date: May 22, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 349

Publisher: Anecdote Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more