An often gripping real-life voyage.

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A TRUE YARN OF 20TH CENTURY ADVENTURE AT SEA

Rowland’s debut memoir tells a tale of his seagoing trip to Australia, during which he braved storms, hapless crew members, and occasional supply shortages.

The author appears to have been destined for life on the water, as both his father and grandfather were sailors. After a tour as a U.S. Marine, Rowland worked as a salesman for 3M but dreamed of being an adventurer. He commissioned a naval architect to build his first boat, Love Story, but before he could set sail on a planned journey around the world, it disappeared from the marina. Rowland ultimately tracked down its thieves, but the boat, sadly, didn’t survive. By the mid-1980s, he was ready with a new vessel, Endymion, and in January 1987, he and his son, Tony, began their adventure from Newport Beach, California. (The author’s nurse girlfriend, Denise, was temporarily sidelined with an injury, he writes.) The sailors encountered surprising obstacles, including large hawks with the potential to damage instruments and a radio-silent vessel that appeared to attempt a collision with Rowland’s craft. Other people eventually joined the father-son duo on their travels, including Tony’s new pal Kyle; an attorney from Beverly Hills, California; and a hired couple that included another woman named Denise (the author dubbed her “the Amazon” to avoid confusion). The crew endured harrowing storms at sea, and some of its members’ lack of experience proved detrimental at times. But they persevered, spending leisurely hours on islands such as Bora Bora; later, Rowland’s girlfriend reunited with them. This nautical story is, rather appropriately, strongest when it’s at sea, particularly when squalls hit unexpectedly or unseasoned sailors cause problems without malicious intent. The author’s thirst for adventure is infectious, but he also takes solace in prayer, thanking God for his continued survival. He also does some things that may surprise readers, including a decision that has the potential to affect his relationship with his girlfriend. As an author, Rowland is sometimes too frugal with details, although he’s playfully apologetic when referring to a Bora Bora afternoon as “description-defying.” That said, the scenes aboard Endymion are memorable, and it’s sad to see a few crew members go after their shared escapades with the author. There’s intermittent comic relief, too, especially when high prices lead the crew to sacrifice their liquor.

An often gripping real-life voyage.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 311

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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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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