An illuminating addition to the genre, best appreciated if read intermittently.

HOPE OF THE CROW

TALES OF OCCUPYING AGING

A comprehensive collection of short essays in which the author, a passionate advocate for people with disabilities, shares the daily experiences that make her life both more frustrating and more rewarding.

Schneider was born prematurely in 1949, blind from birth, and not expected to survive. Seventy years later, she is a retired clinical psychologist navigating aging with the grace, wisdom, and determination that have defined her life. She refers to her current stage as one in which she is “Occupying Aging.” And she has plenty of helpful tips to impart— especially for people with disabilities, their families, their friends, and, not incidentally, seniors who inevitably find themselves less able than they once were: “My hope is that as more people age into the disability club, accessibilities will keep improving for all.” The volume is broadly organized into four sections—"Work,” “Play,” “Love,” and “Pray.” Within each, the essays are presented chronologically. It is a structure that gives readers a comprehensive sense of the trajectory of the successes and failures of such legislation as the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. The blog posts (http://kathiecomments.wordpress.com) recount personal experiences and range from detailed discussions on federal/local regulations to the simple pleasures and difficulties of taking a walk with her beloved service dog, Luna. She offers good advice for well-intentioned strangers (“Ask me if I need help rather than assume”), urges activism, and provides contact information for government agencies. She says, if your public library does not have the book you are looking for in accessible format or your cable provider does not have “described television programming,” request it! There is also substantial information about the variety of electronic devices and programs that enable accessibility. Although a few of the essays are dry and technical, most are conversational, pleasantly edgy, and often sprinkled with gentle, self-effacing wit: “as I limp along in the slow lane of the information superhighway.” Always, there is an optimistic tone: “I’ve learned to notice the positive and find the humor in some of the tough interactions around my disabilities.” An extensive list of references is provided at the end of the book.

An illuminating addition to the genre, best appreciated if read intermittently. (references)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62787-818-0

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Wheatmark

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2020

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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