An engrossing and inspiring account of three remarkable women.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A nonfiction book focuses on three high-achieving African American women.

In 1921, three students became the first African American women to earn doctorates in the United States, each from an elite university traditionally reserved for Whites. Georgiana R. Simpson earned her degree in German studies from the University of Chicago; Sadie T. Mossell Alexander, in economics from the University of Pennsylvania; and Eva B. Dykes, in English literature from Radcliffe. All three were the descendants of enslaved people—Simpson was the first in her family born free. All three attended the “legendary” M Street High School in Washington, D.C., the first strictly academic high school for African American students, considered among the best of its kind. And each had to contend with a litany of discriminatory hurdles, including racism, segregation, Jim Crow laws, and the loneliness of social isolation, obstacles movingly depicted by Williams: “Black women in America have always faced the double obstacles of gender and race. That so many have succeeded in so many varied fields to achieve their dreams and realize their aspirations is a testament to their strength.” The author combines rigorous historical scholarship with keen storytelling—he brings to vivid life the struggles of these three students to overcome the “double jeopardy” of being both African American and women. What the author says of Dykes when she attended Radcliffe could be extended to Simpson and Mossell Alexander as well—she “assailed the White academic world.” Williams writes in an accessible, lucid style that radiates enthusiasm for the subject—the author studied with Dykes while she served as an English professor at Oakwood College. Moreover, Williams paints an intriguing tableau of the courage and perseverance required to challenge conventional prohibitions, to be “pioneers” and “trailblazers.” This is a captivating study, as dramatic as it is well researched.

An engrossing and inspiring account of three remarkable women.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-09-838457-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2022


Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.

A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.

Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.

Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781668009048

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023


What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.

A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.

When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”

What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780525429524

Page Count: 992

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

Close Quickview