A wide-ranging account explores identity, offering many compelling moments and a conclusion that is worth the wait.

READ REVIEW

DO YOU KNOW WHO I ONCE WAS?

A debut memoir chronicles the life of a successful business executive who came out as transgender at the age of 63.

Raised in an Irish-Italian family, the author recounts a largely typical childhood in Poughkeepsie, New York—altar boy, talented athlete, diligent student, and spirited leader—with one exception: the persistent desire to wear women’s clothing. Richardson does a solid job of conveying the pleasure, fear, and confusion produced by this secret proclivity in the book’s early chapters. But as the focus shifts to the author’s wide-ranging career, brief references to buried feelings and the frequency of cross-dressing in private seem almost parenthetical in nature. Richardson deftly writes of harrowing and comical experiences as a firefighter and assesses triumphs and challenges as an executive, largely in the ski industry. Along the way, the author documents her two marriages and an impressive array of side jobs and business ventures as well as delivering a host of unique, engaging anecdotes. These vignettes include how Richardson managed to sneak into the epic U.S.–Russia hockey match at the 1980 Winter Olympics and to experience the same hurricane in Florida, Massachusetts, and Ireland. But some editing lapses can be both distracting and unintentionally humorous: “My sermons would have been kiss ass”; “buttoned down the hatches”; and “roar its ugly head.” Although the memoir overall reads more like an employment history than a search for identity, the author makes sporadic connections between the two, as when she asserts that the “animosity” faced while attempting to build affordable housing on Martha’s Vineyard helped prepare her for coming out much later. This process of accepting and revealing her true identity as Cami occupies the last 30 pages or so. She encountered acceptance from many but faced rejection from her in-laws, leading to a heartbreaking scenario in which the author and her wife, Teri, were unable to be together during a period of intense grief. Despite this setback, Richardson concludes on a hopeful note and ties together the loose strands of the book when she takes a post-retirement job as a hospitality worker at a ski resort: “My true success and finding self-actualization came from being a Greeter making $11/hour and being out in public as a proud transwoman and living my personal mission.”

A wide-ranging account explores identity, offering many compelling moments and a conclusion that is worth the wait.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 187

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more