A useful hands-on resource for development visionaries.

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I AM BECAUSE YOU ARE

HOW THE SPIRIT OF UBUNTU INSPIRED AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP AND TRANSFORMED A COMMUNITY

How an unlikely 15-year partnership between an American college graduate and a South African schoolteacher created a model nonprofit to help stabilize and educate children in the poorest townships.

While working at an after-school program in the local schools as a college student during his 1998 summer break, Lief, who is now on the Clinton Global Initiative advisory board, recognized his mission to improve the lives of the impoverished children of a Port Elizabeth township. He learned about this deeply troubled landscape—still reeling from the wounds of apartheid and wracked by cyclical afflictions of “poverty, crime, bad schools, and no jobs”—from the gregarious, gracious Malizole “Banks” Gwaxula, a schoolteacher who secured the author a job at his school, the severely overcrowded and understaffed Emfundweni Primary School. The sight of children heating rocks in makeshift fires along the dirt roads at 4 a.m. in order to iron their school clothes jolted the privileged young white student. When Lief returned to the United States and graduated, he was able to convince many affluent people to help subsidize the nonprofit project he and Gwaxula called Ubuntu Education Fund (ubuntu is the concept of shared humanity that allowed Gwaxula initially to welcome the white stranger). Yet simply furnishing the school with a computer lab did not ease the essential crisis plaguing the lives of these children—namely, a very shaky family structure eviscerated by the AIDS epidemic and poverty. Thus, Lief and Gwaxula realized the need to generate more creative ideas, from building a library and teaching about health and sexual abuse to creating a community center with a theater and career and health centers. Lief's straightforward yet moving work delineates step by step how their initial good intentions became a powerful tool for transforming young lives.

A useful hands-on resource for development visionaries.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62336-449-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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

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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

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