An arduous, brave, messy, raw, emotional journey.

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WHAT DO YOU BUY THE CHILDREN OF THE TERRORIST WHO TRIED TO KILL YOUR WIFE?

A MEMOIR

An American journalist makes an ambitious, ultimately resigned attempt to achieve reconciliation for Israeli-Palestinian sins through a painful revisiting of the 2002 terrorist attack in Jerusalem that severely injured his wife.

Harris-Gershon and his wife, Jamie, were both studying Jewish Education at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in the summer of 2002 when their happy plans were brutally derailed by the explosion of a backpack bomb at a university cafe, which gravely injured Jamie and killed her two companions. A Palestinian Israeli with a wife and young children from East Jerusalem, Mohammad Odeh, was indicted and imprisoned for the bombing. Odeh had been recruited by a Jerusalem Hamas cell that used his contacts as a university painter to infiltrate the grounds. Surgery to remove shrapnel and a long stint in the burn unit spelled months of recovery for Jamie, and the couple decided that they could not remain in Israel. They settled in Washington, D.C., where the author got a job at the Jewish Day School, and the couple started a family. In his erratic account that swings wildly back and forth in time, Harris-Gershon tracks the couple’s attempts at an emotional coming-to-terms with their Jewish identity, all the while sifting through the political stalemate and outright hostility between the two sides that resulted in the Hebrew University bombing. Obsessed by his failure to protect his wife from harm and Israel’s inability to protect its people from violence, Harris-Gershon recognized that “only through storytelling, I could reclaim myself.” That entailed returning to Israel and facing down the truth of the attack and even the attacker. Learning Odeh’s name, meeting his family and walking around in his shoes both confounded the author and helped in “choking out something transformative: choking out a blessing.”

An arduous, brave, messy, raw, emotional journey.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-85168-996-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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