A lively memoir from a hardworking entertainer.

UNFINISHED

A MEMOIR

An internationally famous actor, singer, and producer takes stock of her life.

The daughter of army physicians, Chopra Jonas grew up on military bases throughout India. “Reinvention, adjusting and acclimatizing to new environments, overcoming fear of new places by opening up to possibility—these are some of the principles by which I have lived my life,” she writes. One of the most traumatic tests of her adaptability occurred when she was sent to boarding school at the age of 7; she writes about how she felt abandoned, lonely, and afraid. However, the independence she developed served her well later: In 1995, she embarked on her “first trip abroad,” to visit relatives in Iowa. She decided to stay in the U.S. for high school, where she reveled in the freedom of American teenage culture, but she returned to India after a few years. Although Chopra Jonas aspired to become an aeronautical engineer, her life changed dramatically when her mother submitted her photos to a Miss India World contest. To her astonishment, she won the title and went on to become Miss World in 2000. Movie offers followed: For almost a decade, she made four films per year, working long days and devoting herself to learning how to act and how to navigate the patriarchal Bollywood industry. Making the transition to American movies was challenging both professionally and emotionally, and she was shocked when she received racist hate mail and tweets. Nevertheless, her career in the U.S. took off when she was offered the lead role in the series Quantico. The author recounts her depression after her father’s death, her whirlwind romance with Nick Jonas, and her humanitarian work as a global ambassador for UNICEF and as an advocate for children and girls. She is committed, she writes, “to get the attention of people and direct it to conditions or situations that cry out for change.”

A lively memoir from a hardworking entertainer.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984819-21-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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