A tale of how grassroots spirit and gritty determination can bloom into hope.

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TROOP 6000

THE GIRL SCOUT TROOP THAT BEGAN IN A SHELTER AND INSPIRED THE WORLD

A New York Times journalist chronicles the experiences of a Girl Scout troop founded in a shelter in Queens, New York.

The main character in the narrative, Giselle, the founder of Troop 6000 and program manager at the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, was once homeless herself. Stewart begins with the hardships and the eviction that forced Giselle and her five children to move into the Sleep Inn shelter in Queens. In an accessible narrative that encompasses a range of social justice concerns, the author chronicles Giselle’s initial encounter with the Girl Scouts and the idea to begin a troop when she realized that the girls around her would benefit from its encouraging community. Stewart also provides some light history on the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, and the author's discussions of the backgrounds of friends at the shelter who helped Giselle illuminate themes of empowerment and overcoming personal challenges. From the troop's widespread media coverage, which included an appearance on The View, to managing the social dynamics of the group ("the Scouts...were growing more and more unappreciative"), Giselle comes across as a poised, resilient organizer whose own journey toward finding a better housing solution for her kids lends the story extra tension—especially when juxtaposed against such pleasant traditions as Camp Kaufmann and cookie sales. While the melodramatic lines that close many of the chapters—e.g., “Back to being homeless and dreaming of a day when they weren’t”; "In seven months, the family would be homeless"; “What good are keys if you don’t have a home?”—don't always ring true, Giselle's life on the page unfolds in a readable fashion calibrated for emotional, uplifting crescendos. Stewart is also wise to let the Scouts tell their own stories, offering a more nuanced perspective to the story. Featuring a sensitive treatment of a still-existing homelessness epidemic, this is an impassioned look at how Troop 6000 inspired others to form in its wake.

A tale of how grassroots spirit and gritty determination can bloom into hope. (b/w photos)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2075-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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