A fascinating private dispatch from the front lines, full of insights into a time of historic social change.

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Destiny's Child: Memoirs of a Preacher's Daughter

Taylor Gibbs’ (Social Welfare, Emerita/Univ. of California, Berkeley; Children of Color: Psychological Interventions with Culturally Diverse Youth, 2003, etc.) comprehensive memoir gives an account of a remarkable family of political and civil rights activists during one of the most socially turbulent times in our nation’s history.

Born to prominent black Baptist minister Julian Taylor and his wife, Margaret, Taylor Gibbs grew up in a large family that included not only her own siblings, but also several troubled foster children. Living in relative economic privilege in predominantly white New England, both of Taylor Gibbs’ parents were nevertheless deeply committed to political and social justice issues, campaigning for high-profile Democratic politicians and working extensively with the NAACP. Firmly entrenched in the civil rights movement, Taylor Gibbs and her family came to know and work alongside an astonishing number of political luminaries and activists—Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, a young Martin Luther King Jr. (who took Taylor Gibbs to church several times after their fathers met at the National Baptist Convention), Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Clintons (the author’s son Geoffrey was an aide to Bill Clinton during his time as governor of Arkansas) and the Obamas. Academic as well as civic-minded, Taylor Gibbs attended Radcliffe College to study sociology before going on to pursue graduate degrees in social welfare and a doctorate in clinical psychology. With her exhaustive academic and real-world experience, Taylor Gibbs brings a unique perspective to issues of social justice, women’s rights and racial equality, as well as their often complicated points of intersection. For instance, she candidly recalls visiting Thurgood Marshall, a close family friend, to ask for a summer internship in the NAACP, for which she was more than amply qualified. His condescension toward her, punctuated with a pat on the rump as she was leaving, provides a testament to the increased difficulties faced by ambitious women of color.

A fascinating private dispatch from the front lines, full of insights into a time of historic social change.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497348462

Page Count: 468

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2014

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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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