SLEEPING IN TREES

TRUE TALES OF BOYHOOD ADVENTURE IN THE 1960S

A debut memoir about growing up amid the mosquitoes, intense heat and boredom of suburban South Miami in the 1960s.
In this work, Brown tells the story of his pre-adolescent years. First, he introduces his “crew” of fellow mischievous young boys, whose nicknames included Dork, Lobster, Junkle, Butler, Cricket and Ding. In more than 50 short, sometimes-hilarious stories, he describes the occasionally dangerous pranks they committed in their neighborhood near Biscayne Bay. Each chapter describes one of their many acts of malfeasance, such as blowing up a mailbox with an oversized, homemade bomb; leaving broken Coca-Cola bottles under the brand new tires of Brown’s father’s Lincoln; and shooting at unsuspecting hermit crabs on the beach with high-powered slingshots. “[O]ur young lives were a twenty-four-hour assembly line of bumps, cuts and bruises,” Brown writes. But these acts, as he describes them, were never done with malice and were only the result of the severe boredom the boys endured as they rode their Sting-Ray bicycles around their neighborhood with little parental supervision. Other chapters tell of a stay at a disastrous summer camp in Tennessee where prunes were part of the required diet and of a time when the author took his friend’s father’s new Mercedes-Benz for a spin. Brown ends the book, however, on a somber note, as he returns to his old neighborhood after living with his family for a year in Seattle, only to find everything and everyone irrevocably changed. The most appealing aspect of this memoir is that it will surely rekindle some of its readers’ own memories of misguided childhood adventures. Brown keeps his short tales moving at a brisk pace, relating them in a casual narrative voice without contrived dialogue to slow the stories down. Throughout, his humorous chapter titles, such as “Monkey House,” “The Inconvenient Shrub,” and “The Lincoln Gets New Treads,” will likely keep readers guessing about the upcoming adventure.
An easygoing, funny and nostalgic debut.

Pub Date: July 31, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more