A valuable guide to recognizing predatory behavior and surviving sexual abuse.



In this work that blends fiction and self-help advice, a psychotherapist traces the path to healing after suffering sexual abuse through the metaphor of a highly ritualized dance.

Elena and Cesar meet through the singles scene in their South Florida community. She is a newly divorced graduate student seeking a license to practice psychotherapy. He is a divorced FBI agent with a co-dependent relationship with his former wife and numerous drama-filled entanglements with ex-girlfriends. Elena is both attracted and overwhelmed by Cesar’s charm and attentive “love bombing.” His erratically possessive behavior sets off alarms immediately, and she almost ends their relationship after their first date. Increasingly wary, she calls off their romance time after time only to be lured back by Cesar’s combination of seduction and passive-aggressive behavior until it finally culminates in sexual assault. The story intersperses the development of Elena and Cesar’s thrilling and disturbing relationship with her later conversations with her therapist and a rape support group. Woven among these strands are seven tango lessons that teach Elena about the dynamic relationship of trust, control, and responsibility that develops between the leader and the follower in the passionate dance. Through therapy and dance, Elena begins to trace the roots of her trauma and the old wounds that made her vulnerable to the manipulations of a narcissistic man. The second section, titled “Psychological Insights,” ties Adamo’s own experience of rape to Elena and Cesar’s story in a more straightforward, mental health text, offering explanations and support on such topics as “Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Predatory People” and “What is Consent, Anyway?” The author’s choice to introduce her exploration of sexual abuse and narcissism with a fictionalized “case study” gives her narrative a dramatic pull, and the therapeutic chapters supply a cogent outline of “loving and leaving a narcissist.” While the arc of Elena and Cesar’s back-and-forth relationship seems agonizingly long, the metaphor of the tango provides an innovative approach to recovering from a toxic relationship and wresting strength and autonomy out of hopelessness and shame.

A valuable guide to recognizing predatory behavior and surviving sexual abuse. (glossary, resources, references, author bio)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72731-273-7

Page Count: 232

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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

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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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