An assumption-exploding, smart account of creativity, work, and a decidedly unconventional life.

SHE WANTS IT

DESIRE, POWER, AND TOPPLING THE PATRIARCHY

An adroit memoir from the creator of Transparent.

Soloway grew up with a father who “was either hiding out, depressed, or working,” along with a tough mother and a sister who came out long ago even as the author “stayed a straightbian and tilted toward artsiness and weed.” So far, an ordinary American family, until one day her father called to say that he was trans. “I had the wrong pronouns then and have only some of the right pronouns now but will use the wrong ones so you can see how wrong I had it,” writes the author, the ordinariness having given way to something new. Having written for the HBO series Six Feet Under and crafted the indie film Afternoon Delight, Soloway was well-placed to make the difficult sell for a series that leveraged some of her own experience and that of many other people—namely, Transparent, which proved a hit for Amazon as it was launching its own independent production business. There was a lot to learn, Soloway writes, and readers new to the complexities of nonbinary gender will find new things on every page thanks to the author’s sharp observations of the world, as when seeing a young man on a Vermont street wearing a sundress: “The same homeless kid, were they female but wearing a man’s scruffy pants and shirt, wouldn’t attract a second look. They might be exactly the same amount genderqueer, but the one who seemed to be male in women’s clothing was alarming in the way a woman in men’s clothing would not be.” There’s a lot to chew on in such things, and Soloway’s meditations become more complex, some of it in the shadow of the unfolding #MeToo movement. A helpful takeaway comes late in the book: “You’re not in trouble and you haven’t done anything wrong.”

An assumption-exploding, smart account of creativity, work, and a decidedly unconventional life.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-90474-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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