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WIDOWISH

A candid, sometimes prosaic memoir of coping with grief and moving forward.

An award-winning screenwriter’s account of how she survived the unexpected death of her beloved husband and learned to navigate life on her own.

Gould had been married for 10 years when doctors diagnosed her healthy, athletic husband, Joel, with multiple sclerosis. Joel managed his illness well with drugs, but as he neared his 50th birthday, "the MS was getting hard to ignore.” Then, two months after he turned 50, Joel suddenly became ill with West Nile virus, which left him paralyzed and brain damaged. Gould had to make the extremely painful decision to end life support. Afterward, her life felt like an "uphill" climb that offered no reprieve from the feelings of loss she suffered, and she spent each night remembering Joel with her daughter. “In the dark weeks that followed,” she writes, “there were beacons of light shining a path for Sophie and me to follow.” Financial worries added "to the stress of grief.” She began looking for signs of Joel's love for her and believed she found it when she accidentally stumbled across a Joel Osteen radio program that promoted positive spirituality and gratitude. A psychic medium later told the author that Joel “was still with” her and that he approved of the new man that the psychic predicted would enter her life. Not long after that, Gould finally began to refer to herself as a widow despite her preconceived notion that such women were "old, wrinkled, tragic. Wearing black. Maybe even a veil.” Acknowledgment of who she had become led to other breakthroughs, including friendships with other widows who led full lives and a passionate connection with a musician. The main strength of this memoir is Gould’s insight into the impact that spousal loss has on personal identity. Though not a standout in this genre, Gould's book will appeal to women seeking to understand the meaning of widowhood.

A candid, sometimes prosaic memoir of coping with grief and moving forward.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1878-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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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 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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