A rich remembrance of a captivating, transformative era in American history.

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REDLINED

A MEMOIR OF RACE, CHANGE, AND FRACTURED COMMUNITY IN 1960S CHICAGO

A stunning debut memoir that documents the societal and racial changes of the mid-20th century, told from the perspective of a Chicago family caught in the middle of them.

After the deaths of their parents, Fred and Lillian Gartz, the author and her two brothers found a genealogical treasure: decades’ worth of “letters, diaries, documents, and photos” written and taken by her parents and grandparents. Using these detailed sources, she pieced together this family memoir, which begins with her grandparents’ immigration to Chicago, their strict and sometimes-abusive child-rearing methods, and their financial devastation during the Great Depression. The spotlight then shifts to her parents’ romantic courtship and the early days of their marriage. The joy and innocence of their young love would soon face the demands of everyday life, including caring for Lil’s psychotic mother, “their time-sucking devotion to building maintenance” as landlords, and Fred’s travel-heavy job that severely strained their marriage. Later, she says, the 1950s brought “a mass migration of African Americans, escaping from the…cruelties of the Jim Crow South.” Gartz describes the racial tensions that existed in her white family’s neighborhood, manifesting especially in discriminatory property laws that kept black people in poverty. Gartz concludes the book with her own recollections of the civil rights movement and the era’s changing sexual mores before returning the spotlight to her parents in their old age. Although the subtitle suggests that this book is primarily about race in 1960s Chicago, it actually covers a much broader array of material, both chronologically (from the early 1900s to the ’80s) and topically, as she addresses mental illness, marital distress, and her own quest for independence, among other issues. Her primary sources, which include the aforementioned photographs and quoted letters and journals, provide an invaluable, up-close-and-personal view of historical events and family drama. Gartz writes with a warm tone, and the various people and settings are as well-developed and intriguing as those in a riveting novel.

A rich remembrance of a captivating, transformative era in American history.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-320-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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

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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

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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