An engaging travel narrative for both language lovers and general audiences.

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MOTHER TONGUE

MY FAMILY'S GLOBE-TROTTING QUEST TO DREAM IN MANDARIN, LAUGH IN ARABIC, AND SING IN SPANISH

A blogger and documentary filmmaker’s account of how she and her family became globe-trotting foreign language learners.

Gilbert decided that she, her husband, and her child needed to become multilingual global citizens rather than remain “all-American monolinguals”—not just to enhance their cultural literacy, but also to give their young son, Cole, a cognitive edge. The author’s father had suffered from dementia, and she discovered research that showed how lifelong bilinguals “could stave off the effects of dementia by four to five years.” The “mad” project she envisioned would eventually take her family to Beijing, Beirut, and Puerto Vallarta, where they would learn three languages through focused study and cultural immersion. Her idealism, however, foundered almost immediately after she arrived in China. Studying Chinese, one of the hardest of all modern languages, “felt like hitting my head against a brick wall,” and Beijing was so polluted that the family had to stay indoors most of the time. Yet by the time they left for Beirut a few months later, they had managed to learn the rudiments of Chinese. Although Cole went through a worrisome “silent period” before he began to speak Arabic, Gilbert soon discovered that the language “was hard, but it wasn’t that hard.” However, political instability and the constant threat of violence drove the family on to Mexico, where Gilbert gave birth to her second child and learned to speak Spanish with ease. Two years after they had begun their journey, the family decided to settle more permanently in Barcelona, where they could “form [their] life…and community” around a second culture they could love and call their own. Informed by research into language and cognitive development, Gilbert’s book is not only the record of a lively and unusual adventure. It is also a celebration of a family’s determination to venture together, for better or worse, into the unknown.

An engaging travel narrative for both language lovers and general audiences.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59240-792-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avery

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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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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