A heartwarming story that explores the power of friendship as well as race, sexuality, talent, and identity.

READ REVIEW

OFFICER CLEMMONS

A MEMOIR

The extraordinary story of one of Mister Rogers’ most groundbreaking and endearing “neighbors,” Officer Clemmons.

Recently, the late Fred Rogers deservedly won posthumous attention thanks to the award-winning documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor and the Tom Hanks vehicle A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. A dear friend of Rogers for three decades, Clemmons offers a firsthand account of his work on Rogers’ show, a story intertwined with the author’s remarkable career as an operatic singer, actor, playwright, and choir director. The autobiography opens with a touching letter from Clemmons to Rogers, thanking him for all of his compassionate lessons. An abbreviated opening recounts the author’s troubled childhood followed by his hard-earned escape to Oberlin College. There, he blossomed both creatively and personally, embracing his homosexuality as well as a deep spirituality that transcended any singular faith. While singing at a church in Pittsburgh, Clemmons met Rogers, about to break nationally with his whimsical children’s show. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Clemmons guest-starred on the show frequently, soon becoming a regular “neighbor” and the first African American to be featured on a children’s program. Clemmons originated his character, the friendly policeman Officer Clemmons, partially as a way to reconcile his frequent conflicts with the police and other authority figures. The author chronicles the friction that resulted from Rogers’ employing an openly gay man on his show, which forced Clemmons to repress his true nature. Nevertheless, their friendship continued to deepen. After Rogers ended a show on a characteristically hopeful note—“You make every day a special day just by being you, and I like you just the way you are”—a spellbound Clemmons asked if he was speaking to him. “Yes, I was,” Rogers replied. “I have been talking to you for years. You finally heard me today.”

A heartwarming story that explores the power of friendship as well as race, sexuality, talent, and identity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-94822-670-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

OPEN BOOK

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

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more