An engaging series of glimpses into the minds and priorities of kids in San Francisco.

READ REVIEW

URBAN PLAYGROUND

WHAT KIDS SAY ABOUT LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO

An unusual collection offers interviews with California schoolchildren.

In her unconventional nonfiction debut, Burke compiles interviews with a group of San Francisco school kids on a broad array of subjects. The author presents these interviews as fleshed-out profiles, providing readers with short biographical details about each of her interviewees, stitching their responses into a conversational narrative. Burke follows each piece with a selection of discussion questions clearly aimed at children roughly the same age as the kids described in the book. Readers meet youngsters like 9-year-old Silas, who likes living in San Francisco but thinks parts of it are a bit “sketchy.” He appreciates the fact that the city isn’t “cold” like Washington, D.C. (readers from the Midwest and New England will wince a bit), which prompts the discussion question: “Would you rather visit a hot or cold weather place, and why?” The author also presents 9-year-old Lilah, who lives in the Castro District and loves soccer (her favorite thing about the sport is the teamwork). This sparks the discussion question: “If you play soccer, or if you ever did play, do you think it would be more fun to run around or defend your team’s goal, and why?” And readers encounter 6-year-old Eliza, who likes San Francisco, particularly its birds—she loves to chirp to them. (“Do you talk to birds?” the discussion question goes. “And if so, do you tweet at them or say something else?”) These enjoyable profiles are uniformly charming and unguarded peeks into the worlds and minds of kids in one city, and the discussion questions are general enough to be very useful in leading to fun conversations with similarly aged children. But by restraining to such a marked degree from editorializing, Burke misses an opportunity to make the lively book even more captivating for her adult readers, many of whom will want more context about the kids’ lives and environments. Still, the direct voices of these children are quite intriguing in their own right.

An engaging series of glimpses into the minds and priorities of kids in San Francisco.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68463-016-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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