Next book

THE MANY LIVES OF MAMA LOVE

A MEMOIR OF LYING, STEALING, WRITING, AND HEALING

A courageous and inspiring memoir.

A writer and literary agent tells the story of how she overcame addiction, a criminal record, and social ostracism to lovingly embrace her “beautiful mess of a life.”

As Love Hardin recounts, during adulthood, her love of escape led her to anything—sex, food, Vicodin, and eventually heroin—that could induce self-forgetfulness. By 2008, she was living a double life as a “perfect [suburban] mom” and heroin addict who had bankrupted herself to feed the addiction she shared with her husband. Police arrested her after she used stolen credit cards to rent a hotel room that had the electricity and heat she could not afford at home, and her life quickly descended into further chaos. Separated from her children and newly convicted, she experienced a “tsunami of shame and grief and guilt and loss” that plunged her into suicidal despair. Love Hardin eventually found solidarity with other women who had also lost their children and became a surrogate mother to the “lost girls” who were “desperate for things they [had] no name for.” Slowly, the author began the hard fight to regain custody of the children she adored, the self-respect her codependent marriage to a drug addict had destroyed, and the credibility among acquaintances who publicly pilloried her as the “neighbor from hell.” Work as a collaborative writer for a media firm brought the author into unexpected contact with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, both of whom helped her develop the self-compassion she needed to understand that she was “a work in progress.” As Love Hardin writes, “spending a week listening to Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama alternate between teasing each other for not acting holy enough, and then crying over the profound suffering that is the human experience, changes me.” In addition to revealing the struggles of female felons in a misogynist justice system, the author celebrates her own determination to accept herself and begin again.

A courageous and inspiring memoir.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2023

ISBN: 9781982197667

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 70


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 70


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

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 27, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 26


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

LOVE, PAMELA

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 26


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

Close Quickview