A captivating story of one woman’s journey to spiritual freedom.

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HOW I SURVIVED A RELIGIOUS SEX CULT

In a compelling debut memoir, Larkin tells of her experiences in the Children of God cult.

Growing up in the Bible Belt in the 1970s, Larkin was drawn to Christianity at a young age. However, her mother always actively discouraged her from joining a church and leading a religious life. When her mother finally took her to a church, Larkin found herself dissatisfied: “The people were nice to me, but they didn’t talk much about the Lord. They seemed more interested in talking about what was right and wrong—not a whole lot different than my mother.” Lost and despondent, the 13-year-old Larkin happened upon a poster in the nearby college town of Knoxville, Tenn., that read, “Free Food, Free Music, Free Love.” Larkin took the ad as a sign from God and went to the listed address, where she was greeted by the seemingly warm and generous members of the Children of God, also known as the Family. Larkin joined them and eagerly relinquished all her possessions to the group. The Family’s regular proselytizing, or “witnessing,” consisted at first of distributing leaflets and singing on street corners, but then began incorporating “Flirty Fishing,” in which female members persuaded outsiders to join the Family by flirting and eventually sleeping with them. Larkin’s spiritual journey took another unexpected turn when she gave birth to a daughter, Berta, with cerebral palsy. Her challenges as she tried to raise Berta in the Family—where no one member is allowed to receive special treatment—led Larkin to see her life in the Children of God as unsustainable and detrimental to her and her daughter’s well-being. In this fine memoir, the author’s voice is emotional and fervent, but her prose style is relatively unadorned. She conveys her story in simple but powerful language that consistently makes her account an absorbing read.

A captivating story of one woman’s journey to spiritual freedom.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478326069

Page Count: 324

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

RAGE

That thing in the air that is deadlier than even your “strenuous flus”? Trump knew—and did nothing about it.

The big news from veteran reporter Woodward’s follow-up to Fear has been widely reported: Trump was fully aware at the beginning of 2020 that a pandemic loomed and chose to downplay it, causing an untold number of deaths and crippling the economy. His excuse that he didn’t want to cause a panic doesn’t fly given that he trades in fear and division. The underlying news, however, is that Trump participated in this book, unlike in the first, convinced by Lindsey Graham that Woodward would give him a fair shake. Seventeen interviews with the sitting president inform this book, as well as extensive digging that yields not so much news as confirmation: Trump has survived his ineptitude because the majority of Congressional Republicans go along with the madness because they “had made a political survival decision” to do so—and surrendered their party to him. The narrative often requires reading between the lines. Graham, though a byword for toadyism, often reins Trump in; Jared Kushner emerges as the real power in the West Wing, “highly competent but often shockingly misguided in his assessments”; Trump admires tyrants, longs for their unbridled power, resents the law and those who enforce it, and is quick to betray even his closest advisers; and, of course, Trump is beholden to Putin. Trump occasionally emerges as modestly self-aware, but throughout the narrative, he is in a rage. Though he participated, he said that he suspected this to be “a lousy book.” It’s not—though readers may wish Woodward had aired some of this information earlier, when more could have been done to stem the pandemic. When promoting Fear, the author was asked for his assessment of Trump. His reply: “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.” Multiple crises later, Woodward concludes, as many observers have, “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-73-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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