Mokotoff, despite a tendency to dwell on mundane and superficial details, constructs a devastating memoir that is both an...

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THE MOOSE’S CHILDREN

A MEMOIR OF BETRAYAL, DEATH AND SURVIVAL

A tragic memoir of childhood sexual abuse and one man’s struggle to comprehend its lasting repercussions.

The book opens with the death of Mokotoff’s (Fallible, 2009) ex-wife, Tina. After recounting the horrific details of Tina’s demise as the result of years of alcoholism, Mokotoff chronicles the beginning of their relationship. He is the first to admit his initial naïveté about Tina’s penchant for alcohol and evasion of discussing her troubled past, yet as he continues to feign ignorance into the early years of their marriage, it’s hard to sympathize with such persistent denial. Mokotoff’s retrospective observations are also riddled with clunky dialogue and excessively detailed descriptions, such as grocery lists and physical appearances, which inhibit the reader’s ability to feel emotionally connected to the author’s plight. As he continues to recall missed warning signs, Mokotoff peppers the story with enlightening though sometimes awkwardly placed explanations of Tina’s family history. Through these details and Tina’s eventual confession, the reader learns how she and other siblings were all victims of varying degrees of sexual abuse at the hands of an alcoholic stepfather. Unfortunately, Mokotoff doesn’t realize how deeply these experiences affected his wife until it’s too late. Finding solace in drink, Tina manages to hide her alcohol consumption until she finally crosses the line into destructive, inescapable alcoholism. Multiple failed stints in rehab lead to the irrevocable breakdown of the Mokotoff’s marriage as Tina withdraws further into the dark world of addiction and Mokotoff is unable to come to terms with her illness. Sadly, it’s only after the death of Tina and her brother that her remaining family could begin a process of healing; it’s this process that Mokotoff successfully facilitates and relays through his account. In a final and touching part of the memoir, Mokotoff’s teenage daughter Emily reflects on her relationship with her mother. It is here that we finally see a genuine glimpse of Tina that was frustratingly absent in the rest of the book.

Mokotoff, despite a tendency to dwell on mundane and superficial details, constructs a devastating memoir that is both an act of closure and a cautionary tale.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-0741469571

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Infinity

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2012

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

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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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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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