An enlightening book with lessons for us all.

A journalist recounts his walking journey through the “original heartland” of America.

After enduring both the pandemic and a frightening cancer diagnosis, King Jr., a longtime reporter for the Wall Street Journal, felt the urge to set out on a 330-mile walk from Washington, D.C., to New York City to get a better feel for the character of his nation. Though he notes that there is nothing heroic or newsworthy about the walk, the author’s storytelling skills transform a seemingly insignificant trip into something revelatory. In just under a month, King trekked down back roads, across farmlands, and along riverbanks, meeting individuals from various walks of life. Alongside details about the adventure, he reflects on the history of this region of the U.S., sharing numerous keen insights and observations. At the beginning, King strolls past the Capitol, and he reflects on the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, an event still very fresh in the minds of many Americans. Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line, King ponders what enslaved people heading north along the same path may have thought about the country that treated them reprehensibly. While in Amish and Mennonite farm country, he receives a lesson in the renewal of the mind, pondering the values of nonconformity. Writing about Valley Forge, he considers the concept of perseverance, and later, he makes his own personal crossing of the Delaware River. Climbing a landfill in New Jersey, he mourns the excessive consumerism of American society. But the author is largely optimistic. “As I went, day after day, opening myself to the people and places I encountered,” he writes, “I became in turn more open to those people and places….Absent the otherworld distractions buried in our phones or laptops, I could feel my capacity for awe and wonder grow exponentially with the days.” Readers who enjoyed Rinker Buck’s Life on the Mississippi should try this one next. Hamilton’s drawings complement King’s text.

An enlightening book with lessons for us all.

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780358701491

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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

ISBN: 9781668009048

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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

ISBN: 9780525429524

Page Count: 992

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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