Not easy reading, but an informative primer for those contemplating foster parenting.



A report from the trenches about what it’s like to be a foster parent.

Thirteen years ago, with three boys of their own at home, Kathy and Bruce Harrison decided to adopt two little girls Kathy encountered while working in a Head Start program. Part of the adoption process entailed foster-parenting training and certification; soon, Social Services began calling, begging the Harrisons to take in foster children for short-term placements. Some hundred children later, Kathy writes about her family’s journey. Miguel, a ten-month-old infant, needed an overnight placement after his teenage parents nearly beat him to death. One-year-old Shamika had been severely burned by her mother. The Harrisons also have their share of long-term foster kids, whose stories are even bleaker. Six-year-old Danny had been beaten and sexually abused his entire young life. As a result, he was dangerous, unpredictable, and resisted toilet training. Worst of all, he was a budding pedophile and could never be left alone with younger children; for this reason he was eventually removed from the Harrisons’ household and subsequent placements. Sara, another six-year-old, had the same grim past, and although she seemed more salvageable than Danny, that hope proved illusory; by the end, Sara is in a secure psychiatric facility, perhaps never to be released. There are some success stories, however. A sweet girl named Lucy who enjoyed birding went on to be adopted by a loving family after a stint with the Harrisons, who themselves adopted a third daughter, Karen, despite her host of medical problems. Kathy and Bruce lavished attention on these damaged and rejected children; they clothed, fed, and ferried the kids to sporting events, therapy, meetings with birth parents, and court, all for $15.00 per day. The Harrisons aren’t perfect—the author recounts her relief when Danny is finally removed from their care—but they certainly provide a desperately needed service.

Not easy reading, but an informative primer for those contemplating foster parenting.

Pub Date: April 14, 2003

ISBN: 1-58542-200-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020


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. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

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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Honest messages from one of America's best known women.


A compilation of advice from the Queen of All Media.

After writing a column for 14 years titled “What I Know For Sure” for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Winfrey brings together the highlights into one gift-ready collection. Grouped into themes like Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity and Power, each short essay is the distilled thought of a woman who has taken the time to contemplate her life’s journey thus far. Whether she is discussing traveling across the country with her good friend, Gayle, the life she shares with her dogs or building a fire in the fireplace, Winfrey takes each moment and finds the good in it, takes pride in having lived it and embraces the message she’s received from that particular time. Through her actions and her words, she shows readers how she's turned potentially negative moments into life-enhancing experiences, how she's found bliss in simple pleasures like a perfectly ripe peach, and how she's overcome social anxiety to become part of a bigger community. She discusses the yo-yo dieting, exercise and calorie counting she endured for almost two decades as she tried to modify her physical body into something it was not meant to be, and how one day she decided she needed to be grateful for each and every body part: "This is the body you've been given—love what you've got." Since all of the sections are brief and many of the essays are only a couple paragraphs long—and many members of the target audience will have already read them in the magazine—they are best digested in short segments in order to absorb Winfrey's positive and joyful but repetitive message. The book also features a new introduction by the author.

Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250054050

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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