A female buddy book with intergenerational appeal.

GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND

THE INTERNATIONAL MISADVENTURES OF TWO (ALMOST) ADULTS

Two best friends and fellow Brown University graduates deliver a candid epistolary account of their postgrad adventures "down the rabbit hole" of the real world.

Just before BFFs Pan and Kapelke-Dale graduated from college, they made a pact to stay in touch via email and give each other all the details of their post-collegiate lives. Jobless but hopeful, Pan went to Beijing to have an adventure and learn Mandarin. In the meantime, Kapelke-Dale began working for a narcissistic art gallery owner in Manhattan since New York City was “just where you were supposed to go after college.” Excited and intimidated by adulthood and also deeply uncertain about their futures, both young women fumbled through their lives. After a stint as an underpaid peon in a Chinese PR firm, Pan found work as an editor at a Beijing magazine for English-speaking expatriates. In New York, Kapelke-Dale moved into a better job at a nonprofit art gallery, but that soon became a dead end. As Pan navigated the tricky realm of love and sex with colleagues, Kapelke-Dale tried to work through unresolved romantic issues with old flames. Pan’s path led her to a charming Englishman and a life “ultimatum”: commitment or footloose singledom. For her friend, the choice boiled down to facing her fears and taking a risk to leave NYC for life and graduate study abroad in France and then England. Told in two genuinely winning voices, the book presents a unique view of what it means to come of age as educated females in the chaos of a modern transnational world. Young women just starting out on their own “adventures in wonderland” will find it especially appealing. At the same time, however, older women may also enjoy the way this narrative celebrates the sustaining power of committed woman-to-woman friendship.

A female buddy book with intergenerational appeal.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59240-860-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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