WE USED TO DANCE

LOVING JUDY, MY DISABLED TWIN

A tender and skillfully written account of deep joys and difficult challenges.

Morris’ story of identical twin sisters recounts a lifetime of loving care and hard choices.

From this book’s first sentences, readers will know they’re in the hands of a skilled storyteller: “The more time I spend on this earth, the more I see the impossibility of going through life without experiencing some sort of life-altering event—be it the death of a loved one, the diagnosis of serious illness, or a tragic accident. For my parents, it was the birth of their daughters.” Although the two infants looked the same, their birth experiences were very different. The author’s twin, Judy, had been deprived of oxygen because an umbilical cord had been wrapped around her neck. The babies developed differently afterward, and at the age of 9 months, Judy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy; despite early interventions to help her walk and communicate, she lived most of her life in a wheelchair with head support. Her attentive family members gauged her likes and dislikes by monitoring her smiles, cries, grimaces, and other body language. Eventually, the author married and had children of her own, and Judy continued to be cared for by their widowed mother and a series of healthcare aides. When Judy was in her 50s, her aging mother was unable to provide the care needed, and a doctor insisted that Judy be moved to a nursing home. The bulk of the book recounts the last two years of Judy’s life as she suffered a slow decline that the family was unable to stop. Morris offers an affecting story, and readers will gain considerable sympathy for families with disabled members; the book may also alert such families about the struggles that may come in the future. Although the author’s story is a deeply personal one, readers may wish that it had some more practical elements; these might have included the names of services or programs that could help other families navigate similar situations, as when the author wonders how she could have fought the doctor to keep Judy at home.

A tender and skillfully written account of deep joys and difficult challenges.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-1647425739

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 48


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 48


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

LOVE, PAMELA

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

Close Quickview