A rich and detailed account about Africa, America, and the importance of history.




A debut memoir traces a professor’s intricate journey from Nigeria to the United States.

Soremekun grew up in a Nigeria still under British rule during World War II. As a child, he observed both modern colonialism and the long-lasting traditions of the native population. His larger-than-life grandfather, who lived with several wives on a compound, was ruled by superstition even as the family became Methodists. From there, the author’s father moved the family to Lagos, which, for Soremekun, was like “a giant theater” of activity and excitement. It was also in Lagos that he proved his worth as a student, earning outstanding marks in the British school system and opening the door to a university. But movies, issues of Reader’s Digest, and various pen pals would instill a deep fascination for the United States—an interest so intense it earned him the nickname “American boy.” Soremekun eventually chose to study history at a college in Kansas, making the long trip by boat, and then completed a master’s and Ph.D. in history, concentrating on African studies, at Northwestern University. Throughout the rest of his adult life, the author and his wife, Elizabeth, would go back and forth between California and Africa. He would work as a church janitor, a laborer, and a scholar of Angolan missionaries, eventually founding a school benefiting the next African generation. As a historian, Soremekun delves into the context of his life events without generalizing or ever oversimplifying. He examines how, even as a child in Lagos, he was able to see the ways that colonial rulers used tribalism to sow discord among locals, giving police powers to certain groups and not to others. He writes with care about the simultaneous liberation of Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States in the early 1960s, discussing the “alienation” of continental Africans from African-Americans. The author has perhaps packed too much into one work, leaving some of these subjects underdeveloped to continue relating the various incidents of his long life. Still, this remains a captivating story.

A rich and detailed account about Africa, America, and the importance of history.

Pub Date: March 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973623-08-3

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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


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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