Offering a well-rounded look at his successful life, Leon’s memoir is self-reflective and encouraging to those who might...

TAKE YOU WHEREVER YOU GO

A Tony Award–winning director pays loving tribute to his grandmother as he covers the broad scope of his life.

Leon’s Grandma Mamie had a hard life. She raised 13 children and then took in Leon when he was 4 and kept him for four years while his mother found her own way in the world. Prayer and the belief that her children and grandchildren could have a better life than she had had kept Mamie going, and she pushed Leon to always do his best. “[She] put in those endless days of work and effort,” writes the author, “and her kids never missed a meal. She led that life, that hard, country life, without the comfort of a partnership and some love coming back.” Leon’s love and devotion to his grandmother are evident throughout the narrative of his childhood and his rise through the ranks as an actor and director. The author discusses her cooking, her clothing and colorful hats, the way she talked, and how she almost always had visitors and was happy to throw together a meal for them. He shares his personal doubts and fears as he worked first as an actor and then as a director in the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. He also writes about his relationships with women, his professional working relationship with the playwright August Wilson, his endeavors to bring more diversity to the stage, and the founding of his own theater company, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. The author, who won a Tony for his direction of A Raisin in the Sun in 2014, shows how the supportive words and actions of his closest family members instilled in him a strong confidence in his ability to dream big and overcome the obstacles in his path.

Offering a well-rounded look at his successful life, Leon’s memoir is self-reflective and encouraging to those who might harbor self-doubts about their own abilities and pursuits.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4497-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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