An unvarnished, memorable portrayal of a mother’s grief and love.

DANCING IN THE MOSQUE

AN AFGHAN MOTHER'S LETTER TO HER SON

A powerful narrative of a life marked by courage and despair.

In a riveting memoir, Qaderi recounts her life story for the son she left behind in Afghanistan. When she refused to accept her husband’s taking a second wife, he divorced her, taking away their 19-month-old child. “Every day I regret my decision to leave you,” she writes in a moving testimony to her love. The author was a young girl during the brutal Russian occupation of Afghanistan; two years after the Russians left in 1989, the Taliban rose to power. Suddenly streets were filled with “young men with beards and long hair and kohl eyeliner…tall and thin as if they had been starved for years.” They instituted Sharia law, closed girls schools, and forbade reading; those who disobeyed were publicly whipped or worse. Describing herself as a troublemaker, Qaderi rebelled, daring to home-school girls when she was 13 and soon secretly teaching girls, boys, and even two young members of the Taliban within a mosque. It was there that one of her students taught her to dance—at the risk of all their lives. Boldly, Qaderi managed to set up a writing class under the guise of learning needlework. Merely being female made her physically vulnerable. She was twice sexually harassed, once by a lewd religious leader. Taliban men often forced young girls to marry them, a fate she feared. At the age of 17, her family considered her lucky to marry a local man, and she was taken to live with his family in Tehran. There, women’s freedom amazed her. “In Iran,” she writes, “a good woman could be an independent and educated woman.” Married for 15 years to a husband she grew to love, and who supported her accomplishments, she was shocked when, after they returned to Kabul, he announced that he would take another wife—an act she could not abide.

An unvarnished, memorable portrayal of a mother’s grief and love.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297031-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fans will blissfully revel in the intimate if restlessly delivered details in this perceptive memoir.

THE BEAUTY OF LIVING TWICE

The celebrated actor reflects on a life of success, activism, and cleansing self-discovery.

Stone (b. 1958) begins in the hospital in 2001, when a severe brain injury nearly ended her life. She then backtracks to her youth growing up with three siblings in the “snowbelt” of northwestern Pennsylvania. She excelled at school but distanced herself from an aloof, damaged mother, a woman who never had a chance “to imagine a life where she could be whatever she chose.” As a teenager, Stone waited tables while entering local beauty pageants, which led to Manhattan modeling jobs and a move to Hollywood in the early 1980s. The author breaks down her iconic roles in Basic Instinct and Casino. Regarding the controversial interrogation scene in the former, she writes, “there have been many points of view…but since I’m the one with the vagina in question, let me say: the other points of view are bullshit.” While sharing a host of madcap episodes throughout an eventful life, she also proudly describes her impressive “life of service,” her Buddhist faith, and the adoptions of three sons. She also contributes juicier stories about co-hosting the 2008 Cannes Film Festival with Madonna and the controversy that erupted following a stray comment to reporters. Stone then moves on to her “second life,” when she endured “the loss of all things we call dear,” including her father, marriage, health, and financial security. Though the memoir is unevenly, frenetically narrated, that will only deter readers unfamiliar with Stone’s persona. Delivering a barrage of self-reflective anecdotes, she is consistently candid, alternatingly tender and feisty, and always witty. In conclusion, Stone offers thoughts on wisdom, modesty, and vulnerability as well as some startling admissions about “being sexually abused throughout my life.” Encouragingly, Stone has reconciled with her mother. “Today,” she writes, “my mother and I are at the beginning of our relationship.”

Fans will blissfully revel in the intimate if restlessly delivered details in this perceptive memoir.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more