A heartfelt, uplifting, hopeful memoir from a talented new voice in nature writing.

DIARY OF A YOUNG NATURALIST

A teenage Northern Irish naturalist chronicles his struggles to protect the natural world around him.

In this impressive debut, McAnulty takes us through a year in his life (from age 13 to 14) as an environmentalist juggling the demands of being a teenager with autism. Three other members of his immediate family are also on the spectrum: his mother, brother Lorcan, and sister Bláthnaid. His father is not. “I have the heart of a naturalist, the head of a would-be scientist, and bones of someone who is already wearied by the apathy and destruction wielded against the natural world,” writes the author. “The outpourings on these pages express my connection to wildlife, try to explain the way I see the world, and describe how we weather the storms as a family.” Exploring the wild with his family provides the opportunity to recharge and escape the bombardment of noise, feelings of claustrophobia, and torment from others that he faces at school. From McAnulty’s diary entries, it is clear that he and his loving, affectionate family are always in search of adventure. During the year he recounts, the author also endured the emotional strain of his family’s move to a different town, which required him to switch schools. For such a young author, McAnulty displays an astounding ability to capture and articulate his feelings and the nuances of the natural world, and his sincere compassion and lyrical prose captivate: “Above the bulrushes, a cloud of hoverflies. The light is dappled and sepia. I’m dazzled by the delicacy of the moment. My insides explode, words ricochet outside-in. I hold them close, because capturing this on a page allows me to feel it all over again.” The author also implores others to do their part in protecting the environment, finding local action to be the most effective. “As nature is pushed to the fringes of our built-up world,” he writes, “it’s the small pockets of wild resistance that can help.”

A heartfelt, uplifting, hopeful memoir from a talented new voice in nature writing.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-57131-180-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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