A daughter’s fond memoir of her father and the pioneering civil rights activists in his circle.



A reporter recalls her family’s part in the landmark 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, boycott that desegregated buses and brought fame to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

Journalist Houston was born into a remarkable family at the center of an event that changed U.S. history. She was 4 years old when, to protest segregated seating, black passengers stopped riding city buses in Montgomery, galvanized by Parks’ arrest and by a Gandhi-inspired call for nonviolent protest from King, the new pastor of Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The author's father, Thomas Gray, helped organize the 382-day boycott, arranging carpools and taxi rides for the thousands of black residents who normally took buses; before it ended, her uncle, Fred Gray, had become the lead counsel in Browder v. Gayle, the U.S. Supreme Court case that eventually forced Montgomery to desegregate its buses. In her debut memoir, the author warmly recalls her kin and deals matter-of-factly with the appalling Jim Crow–era injustices they faced: Houston was born in a hospital for black patients because “Negroes were either denied admission to white hospitals or accommodated in segregated, subpar units, sometimes in basements or attics.” The author also chronicles her interviews with relevant figures such as the daughter-in-law of the targeted bus line’s manager and a son of Browder plaintiff Aurelia Browder Coleman, who laments that Parks—though not a litigant in that watershed case—has eclipsed his mother and others (“a lie has become history”). Houston’s real coup, however, is a rare at-home interview with Browder plaintiff Claudette Colvin, who refused to give her seat to a white rider months before Parks did and disputes popular accounts of her story: “I wasn’t kicking and scratching like they say I was.” Arriving at a time when racial injustices regularly lead to tragedy, this modest book is a welcome reminder that profound social changes can also result from the quiet heroism of people with unshakable commitment to nonviolence.

A daughter’s fond memoir of her father and the pioneering civil rights activists in his circle. (30 b/w photos)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64160-303-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books/Chicago Review

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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