A candid and witty alternative to more formulaic parenting books.

RAGE AGAINST THE MINIVAN

LEARNING TO PARENT WITHOUT PERFECTION

Why it’s OK not to be a perfect parent.

In her first book, Howerton, a marriage and family therapist, gives readers a refreshing take on parenting: Relax. Nobody is perfect. As the mother of four children, two adopted and two biological, the author is well equipped to offer advice. “Hopefully,” she writes, “this book will help you rage against the narratives of motherhood and life and relationships and gender that tell us we aren’t enough.” Among other topics, she shares her tragic experiences with multiple miscarriages, her long wait to officially adopt her first son, and the confusion people experienced when encountering her mixed-race family. Howerton’s tone is refreshingly authentic and upfront but not cheeky, sassy, or heavy-handed as it attempts to hit the laugh-out-loud button. “The truth is that contentment is an inside job,” she writes. “So is authenticity. Validation doesn’t come from magazines, blogs, Facebook feeds, or even your best friends. It doesn’t come from looking like you have it all together online.” So forget unattainable goals, she writes; “it’s about opting out of the comparison game and giving ourselves permission to fail, to get back up, and to love with our whole hearts again the next day.” Nothing offers more proof of that maxim than Howerton’s story of her trip to Haiti with a newborn to see her adoptive son at the time of the massive earthquake that devastated the country. She also explores her difficult decision to divorce her pastor husband despite their deeply religious community, which led to “some of the darkest [years] of my life. Many days, not crying in public or in front of my kids was the best I could do.” Ultimately, Howerton shows the good and the bad sides of parenting and encourages readers to breathe easier when contemplating their own inadequacies.

A candid and witty alternative to more formulaic parenting books.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2516-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Convergent/Crown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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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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