A unique perspective on 20th-century nursing overshadowed by multiple accounts of family feuding.

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IN TRAINING

YEARS OF PAIN, DAYS OF LAUGHTER

Luckmann (co-author: Transcultural Communication in Nursing: 2nd Edition, 2005, etc.) recalls her time spent as a trainee nurse in a demanding Los Angeles hospital.

“Temperatures already in the mid-fifties promising another hot, smoggy, September day in Los Angeles and I am preparing myself to face three years at Los Angeles County General Hospital,” writes Luckmann, recalling the moment in 1954 when she packed her bags, left her family home, and set out for a new life in nursing. The author’s mother, the movie star Gloria Grey, died when Luckmann was still in school, and her father, a screenwriter, disappeared, leaving her to be raised by her domineering maternal grandmother, Babu. Luckmann’s relationship with Babu was strained—on announcing her decision to become a nurse, Babu remarked: “you won’t be able to take it.” She became intent on proving her grandmother wrong despite the tribulations she experienced as a “probie” at County, which included: intimidating senior nurses, bedsores infested with maggots, and witnessing a fellow “probie” suffer “a complete collapse of nerves.” These memoirs were discovered as a series of unfinished files after her death and were edited and collated by her spouse. The writing is clear and concise: “In nursing arts lab, we are instructed on body mechanics, the use of safety restraints, and how to take temperatures.” It’s also often elegant: “my life built around a rotating wheel of fortune that sometimes spun fast and furious in the wind and at other times turned quietly in a soft breeze.” Readers interested in learning about hospital life in the 1950s will gather some valuable insights here, but unpacking familial relationships takes precedence. For instance, at the opening, we learn more about Babu, her past, and the reasons for her spitefulness than we do about the author and her drive to become a nurse. Along with some subtle reframing, the memoir could benefit from a thorough copy edit. Yet, despite some rough edges, perhaps indicative of an unfinished manuscript, this remains revealing, heartfelt writing.

A unique perspective on 20th-century nursing overshadowed by multiple accounts of family feuding.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 295

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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