A generous and unflinchingly brave memoir about faith, feminism, and freedom.

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THIS IS MY BODY

A MEMOIR OF RELIGIOUS AND ROMANTIC OBSESSION

A former megachurch worship leader comes to terms with her ailing marriage and a religious system that simultaneously elevated and marginalized her.

As a teen, Hammon, the writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools in Houston, was a vocal major at the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan. She was well on her way to carving out a career as a songwriter and performer when she became an Evangelical Christian in her mid-20s. It wasn’t exactly the path she’d originally imagined, but her newfound faith and her musical gifts seemingly aligned when she moved to Houston and eventually married her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Matt. The two often led congregations in worship as a team, though they also sometimes took jobs at separate churches. Whether she was fronting the duo or working solo, Hammon began to realize that her scope of influence was limited in the church because she was a woman. In this debut memoir, she chronicles her journey toward a “spiritual midlife,” where she dares to face questions and inconsistencies that are often at odds with conservative Evangelical doctrine. With a rare combination of candor and grace, the author exposes some of Evangelicalism’s frailties without disparaging or dismissing those who are still believers, making her narrative accessible to a wide audience. Hammon wisely focuses on storytelling and lets readers take away what they will. She also details her romantic obsession with another man; though she takes full responsibility for it, she illustrates how patriarchal religious systems and/or disengaged husbands can, among other things, leave women feeling abandoned and secretly longing for extramarital intimacy. Hammon’s story will resonate strongly with anyone who’s become disillusioned with conservative Christianity, especially women who are “trying to find a way to survive their unhappiness without dismantling their lives.”

A generous and unflinchingly brave memoir about faith, feminism, and freedom.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-940596-32-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Lookout Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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