A consistently sunny, family-oriented story of persistence and achievement.



A decorated Olympian reflects on her supportive upbringing and celebrated competitive swimming career.

Five-time gold medalist Franklin’s affinity for water began when she was a child vacationing with her family at oceanside locations and, later, in grade school, where she discovered and began honing the ability to “swim fast on my back.” With obvious pride, she describes a succession of swim meets, influential coaches, competitions, and national championships, near and far, which her parents, who co-authored the book, were more than happy to shuttle her to. At some point, writes the author, “a switch got flipped, and swimming became something else—something more.” With her parents’ blessings and ceaseless encouragement, Franklin began training with top-level professional coaches. In perhaps her greatest achievement to date, Franklin, then just 17, won five Olympic medals (four golds, one bronze) at the 2012 London Olympics. A blitz of media attention descended on the family, but Franklin became buoyed by an insistence on finishing her secondary education with her friends and graduating class at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, where her spirituality bloomed as well. Throughout the book, Franklin effusively credits her parents as being “at the heart of everything I do, everything I am, everything I might become.” The co-authors add depth, personal history (both were victims of childhood abuse), and alternating perspectives on raising their daughter and cultivating her talent. They also offer a clear glimpse into how they raised and molded Missy to become a humble champion who continues to persevere—despite self-critically disappointing performances at the recent 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. But this is very much the swimmer’s memoir. In a breezy style, she focuses on charting her own physical prowess and competitive skills while honoring and staying true to the interconnectedness and gravity of the family bond.

A consistently sunny, family-oriented story of persistence and achievement.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-98492-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.



In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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