A well-researched, timely, and deeply personal analysis of race in contemporary America.

MIXED

EXPLORING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BLENDED IN AMERICA

A mother reflects on the intersection of American history and her biracial family in this work that blends a memoir with social commentary.

As a White mother to biracial children and a stepmother to a Black son, Jones is deeply aware of the cultural inequalities in the United States. In this book, she uses her family’s experiences to explore racial issues in contemporary America. Her husband, Keith, nicknamed “End Zone,” is a retired professional football star. To fans of the University of Nebraska football team, he was a “true Husker legend,” but off the field, he remained “constantly on guard while taking a walk in his own neighborhood” in Omaha and frequently got “stared down by strangers” as a Black man who drove a nice car. As readers “Meet the Joneses,” they are introduced to the author’s son, Quincy, who attended college with “the most active white nationalist in the Nebraska area.” Despite the student’s vile record of racist tweets and videos posted on social media, the school declined disciplinary action, prompting Quincy to transfer. The Jones family also includes Ezley and Xonya, twins with drastically different skin tones, hair textures, and eye colors, who confronted questions of identity and ethnicity from an early age. “Do you know where they carry the blue-eyed doll with a blonde afro,” Jones rhetorically asks as she recalls her difficulty finding a doll that looked like Xonya. With a degree in criminal justice, the author effectively places her family’s poignant stories within a wider context of race in U.S. society. There are ample statistics relating to police brutality, mass incarceration, and educational disparities that provide readers a wide-angled lens on race in America that complements the Jones family’s personal anecdotes. The author is also introspective in the ways that she benefited from White privilege and offers well-intentioned White readers ideas on how to address their own unconscious biases. Despite the book’s many strengths, some readers may be skeptical of its optimistic take that America is at the “tipping point” of becoming the equitable nation “that many have been…waiting for.”

A well-researched, timely, and deeply personal analysis of race in contemporary America.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64-543630-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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