Refreshingly literary and offbeat—a mother-to-be book for firebrands.

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NINE MOONS

A Peruvian journalist’s vibrant musings on pregnancy and childbirth.

In this whip-smart follow-up to Sexographies (2018), the author details her nine months of pregnancy as anything but pastel. Wiener interweaves facts on embryonic development and other scientific elements with visceral experience and accounts of her rabbit-hole internet searches to reveal the anxiety of her first full-term pregnancy. The author examines a host of commonplace markers, such as sonograms, weight gain, baby showers, and choosing a name, but also taboos—e.g., pornography featuring pregnant women ("future mothers were seen as literal sex bombs") and mythological cannibalism. Such dark, fertile forays signal Wiener's original take on the simultaneously common and unique experience of pregnancy. Whether contemplating sex and abortions in her youth, the portrayal of murders in the media, or the “terrifying mother-daughter dialectic” that prompted her to wish for a boy instead of a girl—to avoid a "bad residual copy" of herself—the author's ruminations are consistently provocative, digging into areas many are not willing to go. When Wiener turns to the Lima of her childhood or Barcelona, where she and her husband navigated life as undocumented immigrants looking for work and a decent apartment, the evident love and passion serve as effective counterweights to the nightmarish moments recounted elsewhere. References to pregnancy guides, which Wiener read with some disbelief, and pop culture further enrich the author's investigations. Wiener's reflections on her relationship with her mother, which included microaggressions and tense exchanges, are also illuminating. When Wiener gave birth to a girl, it didn't happen as she’d imagined (when does it ever?), but it's a natural conclusion. "They show her to me like a waiter shows you a bottle of wine," she writes, "as if I could say that I don't want her. They lay her on top of me. She's no longer an extension of me. She's another."

Refreshingly literary and offbeat—a mother-to-be book for firebrands.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63206-223-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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