“Let’s be adults” is a refreshing message, but the text fails to rise above a retread of libertarian talking points.




Denver Post columnist Harsanyi delivers a podium-thumping screed against micromanaging, moralizing busybodies from both sides of the political divide.

According to the author, Americans are in danger of infantilization by legislation. Health-conscious scaremongers have passed laws eroding the freedom to eat a trans-fat-larded monster burger, smoke a post-prandial cigarette indoors or knock back a few beers. Safety-conscious meddlers have passed regulations on sharp toys, oversized gumballs, competitive dodgeball and buckling up when driving. They’re also responsible for the inane warning labels affixed to just about everything. Morality-conscious prudes are monitoring provocative cheerleading routines and diverting FBI resources to anti-obscenity squads. Harsanyi bolsters his position with a relentless barrage of reports and statistics on legislation great and small, from the national “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt campaign and pet-care mandates in San Francisco to the federal law lowering the legal blood-alcohol level and licensing exams for florists in Louisiana. Harsanyi’s sprightly prose keeps much of this minutia afloat, but he can be awfully glib. On alcohol: “The truth is that alcohol can be as dangerous as other drugs. But primarily, we’ve learned our limitations.” He also reserves a baffling amount of vitriol for seatbelt laws, equated here to being ticketed at home for eating unhealthy foods because “there is no difference in principle when you legislate personal behavior.” His specious arguments allege that “nannies” obfuscate and cherry-pick, while he blithely does the same in rebuttal, trotting out examples of people who lost weight eating at McDonald’s, reports dismissing the dangers of second-hand smoke and statistics on how seatbelts haven’t really saved lives. Sentences here and there hint that picayune pieces of legislation serve as distractions from more egregious matters, but Harsanyi doesn't bother to be any more specific than that.

“Let’s be adults” is a refreshing message, but the text fails to rise above a retread of libertarian talking points.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2432-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.


Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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