A story of one child of illegal immigrants that has much wider, timely resonance.

THE BOOK OF ISAIAS

A CHILD OF HISPANIC IMMIGRANTS SEEKS HIS OWN AMERICA

Being a child of Hispanic immigrants in modern America.

The American views on immigration took center stage during the 2016 presidential primaries, with Democrat and Republican candidates offering up multiple solutions to the immigration "problem," which this book makes clear is not so easily simplified. Connolly, who has reported on the subject for more than 10 years, puts to rest the idea of a single problem, whether it be the Republican or the Democratic framing of an issue that seems to require more than any one political outlook can address. Living deep in the Midwest with his parents—illegal immigrants from Mexico, years before—Isaias Ramos is a teenager, first and foremost, seeking his way in the world. He wrestles with the questions of postsecondary education versus immediately entering the workplace, following in his parents' footsteps doing manual work. His school recognizes his potential as he handily dispatches various educational assessment exams, ranking sixth in his class and scoring a 29 on the ACT—better than 93 percent of students in the United States. At the same time, the school struggles to provide the resources needed to support the aspirations they have for him. Student aid for children of immigrants proves a bureaucratic mess that ultimately seems to be a dead end. As with nearly any teenager, Isaias' story pulls other teens into its orbit intermittently, as they learn the ways of moving from childhood into adulthood. Isaias undoubtedly grew over the years when Connolly got to know him, blending the transition of teenager-into-adulthood with the transition of a Mexican family into America. There is a wide, almost universal air to the author’s writing, as he alternately tells a narrowly focused story and a broad-based one, making clear that this tale of one family's immigration cannot be told without laying bare the complex context in which it is situated.

A story of one child of illegal immigrants that has much wider, timely resonance.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-08306-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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