A diverse and entertaining set of memories on how a Nigerian man became an American.

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NEVER LOOK AN AMERICAN IN THE EYE

A MEMOIR OF FLYING TURTLES, COLONIAL GHOSTS, AND THE MAKING OF A NIGERIAN AMERICAN

A Nigerian man explains how and why he moved to the United States.

Growing up in Nigeria, one of Ndibe's (Arrows of Rain, 2015, etc.) greatest dreams was to live in America. So when Chinua Achebe offered him the job of founding editor of African Commentary magazine, a position based in the U.S., Ndibe didn't hesitate to accept. With impressive storytelling skills, the author explores his Nigerian childhood, his dreams and fears, and his arrival in the U.S. during a typical New York City winter, which he “strained to find the language” to describe, eventually settling on “akin to living inside a refrigerator.” Initially, the author focuses on his first few weeks in America and then expands to encompass the many years he's lived in the country. He discusses his introduction to American culture and the variety of differences between Nigerian and American society, including how people pay for meals and when they can and cannot visit. He writes about a racial profiling episode that happened between him and a NYPD officer shortly after his arrival in the country (the officer claimed he fit the description of a bank robber), the death of his father and the British man who had been his father's lifetime friend, the day he became a U.S. citizen, and the details of how he met his wife. Ndibe also integrates amusing moments—e.g., the mix-up that his first name, Okey, caused—within his reflections on becoming a writer and attending a master’s of fine arts program where he met and worked with a number of distinguished authors. On the whole, these intriguing essays give readers a unique perspective on the U.S. and provide an inside look into Nigerian culture and traditions.

A diverse and entertaining set of memories on how a Nigerian man became an American.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61695-760-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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