One of the best rock memoirs of recent years and a revelation for fans.

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ELTON JOHN OFFICIAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY

The legendary piano master tells all, and delightfully.

Reginald Dwight (b. 1947) grew up with parents who “should never have got married in the first place.” Thankfully, he found deliverance in rock ’n’ roll, in which, his father commanded, “you are not to get involved.” Get involved he did, playing with a band called Bluesology that, he admitted, was pretty much like any other British white blues band, and perhaps a little less, save for a chance pairing with Long John Baldry, “maybe the greatest 12-string guitarist the UK has ever produced.” Another chance union was with a young songwriter named Bernie Taupin, who looked out on the moors and saw the Wild West. Changing his name to Elton Hercules John to shed his former skin, the astoundingly gifted pianist threw audiences into confusion; though “Britain’s least convincing flower child,” he played sort-of-hippie music, but in boas and platforms. “I started to think more about how I looked onstage,” he writes of the period around the era-defining “Your Song,” but he also realized that smashing up a piano, as opposed to Pete Townshend’s smashing a guitar, just didn’t work. He was famous from his first record on, and then rich, and then a study in addictive personality. A highlight, or perhaps lowlight, of the narrative is when, coked to the gills, he insists that Bob Dylan shed his hobo clothes for something in his glittery wardrobe only to have George Harrison caution him, “I really think you need to go steady on the old marching powder.” Now sober, a cancer survivor, and in his 70s, Sir Elton looks back at it all with grace and good humor. One might wish only that he spent as much time revealing how he came to such things as the astonishing structure of “Tiny Dancer” as he does recounting bad hair transplants and bad behavior. Even so, his memoir is a terrific read.

One of the best rock memoirs of recent years and a revelation for fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-14760-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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