A powerful and disturbing memoir.

SEX CULT NUN

BREAKING AWAY FROM THE CHILDREN OF GOD, A WILD, RADICAL RELIGIOUS CULT

A lawyer and entrepreneur details her experiences growing up in the Children of God as the granddaughter of its founder, David Berg.

Serving God was all Jones knew in a home dominated by a missionary father who ruled his two wives and children with a strict hand. Members of a secretive Christian sect that called itself the Family, the author’s parents warned of interactions with “Systemites,” nonbelievers who wanted “to stop them from doing the Lord’s work.” That “work,” as defined by her “Prophet” grandfather, Berg, was to save souls through the Law of Love, which legitimized sex outside of marriage, justified polygamy, and made all women—including young girls—the sexual property of Family men. Jones, her family, and other church members lived apart from society “like [sexualized] nuns and monks” who witnessed and participated in sex acts from an early age. Berg’s communications to his followers became increasingly “militaristic about putting God first” over time as Family leadership crumbled. By the time Jones entered adolescence, couples and families (including the author’s own) were split apart, and Jones was forced to move from her home base in Macau to Thailand, the U.S., Kazakhstan, and, later, China. The author began to question the Family and its patriarchal doctrines, especially concerning teen marriage, which made her the target of abusive treatment meant to coerce her into subservience. Education and a love of learning became the road to freedom, and Jones attended Georgetown and UC Berkeley Law School and eventually reconciled with her parents. “It takes my parents more than a decade after leaving the Family before they are willing and able to admit they were wrong,” she writes. Complex and richly detailed, the book provides fascinating insights into a secretive religious organization while offering often heartbreaking details about the nature and repercussions of growing up indoctrinated in a cult.

A powerful and disturbing memoir.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-295245-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

TANQUERAY

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 28, 2022

Did you like this book?

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

more