Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

THE BORN FREES by Kimberly Burge
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 3, 2015

"An affecting portrait of post-apartheid South Africa, particularly useful for writing instructors serving at-risk constituencies."
Journalist Burge recounts a sojourn in a township outside Cape Town working with a writing group called Amazw'Entombi, or "Voices of the Girls."Read full book review >
STREET POISON by Justin Gifford
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"'This is not a story without tragedy….But it is a story of redemption and breathtaking creativity, too,' writes Gifford, who not only tells the story well, but shows why it's so significant."
The first biography of Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim, (1918-1992), builds a compelling case that the pimp-turned-popular author provided the foundation for gangsta rap, Blaxploitation movies, and so much of the underground culture that became mainstream. Read full book review >

BAREFOOT TO AVALON by David Payne
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"A powerful, above-average literary memoir."
Ruminations on family and success, in the context of a fraternal tragedy. Read full book review >
WALKING WITH ABEL by Anna Badkhen
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"Readers with hectic lives may find the pace a bit slow, but the poetry in Badkhen's prose demands that readers slow down and savor her gentle, elegant story."
A journalist records her impressions of living with a group of nomads as they travel with their herds of cows back and forth across Mali. Read full book review >
ENCHANTED AIR by Margarita Engle
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"As so many of our children are immigrants or children of immigrants, we need more of these stories, especially when they are as beautifully told as this one. (Cold War timeline, author's note) (Poetry/memoir. 10 & up)"
"It really is possible to feel / like two people / at the same time, / when your parents / grandparents / memories / words / come from two / different / worlds." Read full book review >

JOY by Abigail Santamaria
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"With access to unpublished documents and family papers, Santamaria has fashioned a compelling narrative, remaining cleareyed about her subject's many personal failings."
A woman's quest for faith and love. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"A tenderly engaging saga of solid research and emotional connection."
The saga of a well-situated American doctor and his Swiss-born wife caught up in Resistance activity in occupied Paris. Read full book review >
UNDER ANOTHER SKY by Charlotte Higgins
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"A thoroughly researched, elegantly written history."
Inquiring into the deep sources of British identity. Read full book review >
Snapshots from my Uneventful Life by David I. Aboulafia
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 7, 2015

"The funny bits in this Everyman's true-life stories will remind readers to look on the bright side of life."
Debut author Aboulafia highlights absurd and memorable events from his life in humorous autobiographical essays. Read full book review >
THE FISH LADDER by Katharine Norbury
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A beautifully written book about a journey through wild places in the landscape and the heart."
British writer Norbury's debut memoir takes readers on vigorous walks through lochs, rivers, and soggy marshes in Scotland, England, and Wales. Read full book review >
WHY I AM A SALAFI by Michael Muhammad Knight
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A vigorous treatment of how the sacred, in all its multifarious forms, continues to exercise power, even if sometimes it just feels like 'we're arguing over what the mystery god intended to say in his address to a mystic in a cave some fifteen centuries ago.'"
Knight (Tripping with Allah: Islam, Drugs, and Writing, 2013, etc.) traverses the scenic highways of Islamic history, seeking paths that connect him to Muhammad. Read full book review >
A WOMAN IN ARABIA by Gertrude Bell
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"An impressive anthology by a scholar who knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff within the massive amount of primary source material Bell left behind at her death."
Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) shattered gender stereotypes while influencing British policy in the Middle East, particularly in the areas in and around present-day Iraq. Editor Howell (Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations, 2007) brings the "female Lawrence of Arabia" to life through judicious selections from Bell's massive public writings and personal papers.Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Sara Paretsky
author of BRUSH BACK
July 28, 2015

No one would accuse V. I. Warshawski of backing down from a fight, but there are a few she’d be happy to avoid. High on that list is tangling with Chicago political bosses. Yet that’s precisely what she ends up doing when she responds to Frank Guzzo’s plea for help in Brush Back, the latest thriller from bestselling author Sara Paretsky. For six stormy weeks back in high school, V.I. thought she was in love with Frank. He broke up with her, she went off to college, he started driving trucks for Bagby Haulage. She forgot about him until the day his mother was convicted of bludgeoning his kid sister, Annie, to death. Stella Guzzo was an angry, uncooperative prisoner and did a full 25 years for her daughter’s murder. Newly released from prison, Stella is looking for exoneration, so Frank asks V.I. for help. “Paretsky, who plots more conscientiously than anyone else in the field, digs deep, then deeper, into past and present until all is revealed,” our reviewer writes. View video >