by Lori Soderlind ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 2, 2020
Entertaining, informative stories of a distressed America and of a woman looking for answers.
A meandering road trip with an aging dog helps a woman find some direction in her life.
Soderlind had wanted to take a road trip into the middle of the U.S. with her dog, Colby, in tow for a long time. After ending a long-term relationship, she and Colby set out in a small camping trailer to explore the lost and forgotten parts of the country. In this emotional travel memoir, the author ponders the many changes that come with entering one’s 50s. Soderlind’s midlife crisis sent her along the American back roads in search of struggling towns that used to be buzzing with life and industry. The author interweaves a brief history of each neglected or deserted location with her own longings, fears, and worries, giving her descriptions a nostalgic or melancholic mood. Soderlind visited the Erie Canal, Buffalo, and small towns in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia. In each locale, she met with locals who were sometimes earnest, sometimes reluctant to share their histories with a stranger, yet she manages to piece together an intriguing map of middle America. Among her many observations, the author writes about old grain silos being turned into climbing walls, mysterious dark tunnels that didn’t seem to end, glorious sunsets on the edges of lakes, and, most importantly, a perspective on life that she wouldn’t have discovered without this trip. “It seems that once you understand Buffalo,” she writes, “by simply adjusting names and locations and substituting commodities once made or exchanged, you could understand most cities in most places. You would know why the Rust Belt was rusty and how the general state of chaos in the world was in most ways utterly predictable.” Ultimately, Soderlind shows how each place she visited was unique and deserving of attention.Entertaining, informative stories of a distressed America and of a woman looking for answers.
Pub Date: June 2, 2020
Page Count: 268
Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin
Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020
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by Britney Spears ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 24, 2023
Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.
Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023
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by Barbra Streisand ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.
When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 992
Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023
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