A solid, if opinionated, look at parenting from a teacher’s perspective.

THE OVERLY HONEST TEACHER

PARENTING ADVICE FROM THE CLASSROOM

A veteran teacher shares parenting lessons learned from her students.

In this debut guide, Essalat offers parents insights derived from her work as a teacher and principal. The book covers both practical tips—for instance, when students make negative comments about themselves or their classmates, she requires them to create a list of positives on the same subject—and a broader argument. She makes the case in favor of establishing high expectations, stepping back to allow children to make mistakes and learn from them, and establishing lifelong habits of independence and self-reliance. The chapters are organized thematically, and each includes anecdotes from the author’s teaching experiences—she is not a parent herself, which she acknowledges from the outset. She also delivers concrete suggestions for parents to implement with their children to improve family relations, school performance, and general preparedness for adult life. The topics will be familiar to many readers of parenting books, from social media use and respectful behavior to managing homework and having productive conversations. But with its focus on the collaborative relationship between parents and teachers, the book presents a unique viewpoint. The writing is generally strong and well informed, based on practical experience and a solid understanding of child development. (Both references and additional resources are included in the backmatter.) But Essalat’s tone can be alarmist at times, particularly regarding social media (she tells students they are “putting our entire community in jeopardy” by posting videos that include the school’s name), as well as judgmental (“If someone isn’t going to make the time, have the time, spend the time with their own kids, then why have them at all?”). She also displays a touch of kids-these-days exasperation (“Just how little our kids appreciate things anymore”). For readers who appreciate the back-to-basics, traditionalist tone of the book, it can be a useful collection of advice and strategies for strengthening relationships with children and helping them to succeed in school. The volume also supplies a well-crafted insider’s perspective on how teachers view their students and how parents can best work with them.

A solid, if opinionated, look at parenting from a teacher’s perspective.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-951412-05-0

Page Count: 145

Publisher: The Collective Book Studio

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2020

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

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

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 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

FAITH, HOPE AND CARNAGE

The Australian alt-rock icon talks at length about the relationship between faith, death, and art.

Like many touring musicians stalled during the pandemic, Cave pursued an autobiographical book project while in quarantine. But rather than write a standard memoir, he instead consented to a book of extensive interviews with U.K. arts journalist O’Hagan, photography critic for the Guardian and a feature writer for the Observer. Cave chose this approach in order to avoid standard rock-star patter and to address grittier, more essential matters. On that front, he has plenty of material to work with. Much of the book focuses on his 15-year-old son Arthur, who died from an accidental fall off a cliff in 2015. The loss fueled Cave’s 2019 album, Ghosteen, but Cave sees the connection between life and art as indirect, involving improvisation, uncertainty, and no small amount of thinking about religion. “The loss of my son is a condition; not a theme,” he tells O’Hagan. Loss is a constant in these conversations—during the period when they were recorded, Cave’s mother also died, as did his former band mate Anita Lane. Yet despite that, this is a lively, engrossing book energized by Cave’s relentless candor—and sometimes counterintuitive thinking—about his work and his demons. His well-documented past heroin addiction, he says, “fed into my need for a conservative and well-ordered life.” Grief, he suggests, is surprisingly clarifying: “We become different. We become better.” Throughout, he talks about the challenges and joys of songwriting and improvisation (mostly around Carnage, the 2021 album he recorded with band mate Warren Ellis during this period) and about the comfort he gets answering questions from fans and strangers on his website. O’Hagan knows Cave’s work well, but he avoids fussy discographical queries and instead pushes Cave toward philosophical elaborations, which he’s generally game for.

A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60737-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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