An important, riveting history lesson that, unfortunately, is still relevant today.

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THE OUTSKIRTS OF HOPE

A MEMOIR OF THE 1960S DEEP SOUTH

An articulate, poignant recollection of the almost two years Ivester and her family spent in the Mississippi Delta town of Mound Bayou during the turmoil of the civil rights movement.

“My parents were foot soldiers in President Johnson’s War on Poverty.” Thus begins Ivester’s debut, constructed from her writings and from journals kept by her mother, Aura Kruger. Ivester was only 10 when her father, a pediatrician in Newton, Massachusetts, decided to close his practice and relocate the white family to an all-black community in the rural South to open a much needed medical clinic. In August 1967, their three youngest children in tow, the Krugers moved into two trailers that would be their home until February 1969. While Leon focused on his new medical facility, Aura became a high school English teacher. With stark honesty, Aura’s writings reveal her anxieties and anger about uprooting her children and moving them into schools where they would be the only white students. She details the challenges of dealing with the Jim Crow laws still in effect in the South. The first time her students entered her classroom, they walked in silently, slowly, eyes cast down. “Many of these students had never seen a white person up close,” Ivester writes. “They’d been raised to fear white people, to always appear docile and unthreatening, to avoid eye contact.” Eventually, she was able to breach the color divide, using her class to introduce these teens to the writings of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Eldridge Cleaver. Aura, more than anyone else in the Kruger family, found her voice and sense of purpose in Mound Bayou. Interspersed with Aura’s journal entries are black-and-white photos and recollected childhood writings from the author. Her young voice is haunting, reflecting confusion when she was teased for being Jewish and trauma when she was attacked and beaten by three older boys. What makes this book particularly valuable is its vivid depiction of the abhorrent consequences of legalized segregation. What gives it heart is the window it opens to the personal journeys of mother and daughter.

An important, riveting history lesson that, unfortunately, is still relevant today.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1631529641

Page Count: 238

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2015

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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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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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