A brisk, gossipy, and entertaining biography.

READ REVIEW

HER AGAIN

BECOMING MERYL STREEP

An admiring portrait of a rising star.

In his debut biography, journalist and New Yorker arts editor Schulman traces Meryl Streep’s evolution as an actor from her childhood in suburban New Jersey to her breakthrough role in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). The first talent anyone recognized in Streep was her beautiful voice, acknowledged when she sang in a school concert at the age of 12. “It was the first time,” writes the author, “she felt the intoxication of applause.” Her parents sent her for singing lessons, but after seeing Beverly Sills in an opera, she realized that she was not good enough for the Met. Instead, she performed in high school musicals and, at Vassar, stunned a professor with her talent for drama. He cast her in a spate of plays, even choosing some because they offered Streep good roles. In 1972, when she auditioned for the competitive Yale School of Drama, she won easy admission. Classmates included Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Durang, and Wendy Wasserstein, who called the place “The Yale School of Trauma.” The school’s “special brand of crazy,” writes Schulman, was created by its director, Robert Brustein. Despite the demoralizing atmosphere, Streep thrived. “Slowly but surely,” writes the author, “the students began to realize that Meryl Streep could outdo them in almost everything.” Drawing on theater memoirs, conversations with Streep’s colleagues and friends, and heaps of interviews that Streep has given over the years, Schulman has fashioned a lively narrative of the actor’s theater and movie work after she left Yale. The influential Joe Papp discovered her and cast her in productions in Shakespeare in the Park, Lincoln Center, and his own Public Theater. As her reputation grew, she was lured to movies, including The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer (for which she won an Oscar), and Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Schulman’s sensitive handling of Streep’s personal life rounds out the portrait of a superbly talented woman.

A brisk, gossipy, and entertaining biography.

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234284-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more