A pensive novel about emotional and physical displacement.

READ REVIEW

Ports of Recall

A NOVEL OF MEMORIES

In Lee’s (A Bed on Nine Legs, 2013, etc.) novel, an Israeli expatriate explores her memories across distances of geography and time.

Lily Katz is an Israeli-American living a comfortable life with her longtime husband, Adam, in New York City. When a letter unexpectedly arrives from Amos, a man with whom she had an affair while living in Kenya in the late 1960s, the floodgates of Lily’s memory open. She devotes herself to writing a memoir. In a winding, nonsequential narrative, Lily explores her life, from her school days in Israel to the present day. Lily, Adam, and their two young children live in Kenya during the Six-Day War and watch helplessly from another continent as their beloved nation of Israel comes under attack. After Adam’s professional life in Africa falls apart, the family relocates to the United States. The move is meant to be temporary, but as Adam begins to experience success as an engineer and the family puts down roots in Queens, it becomes permanent. Lily comes to think of herself as, “Not a true Israeli, neither a true American.” Her family and friends in Israel and Kenya exist strongly in her memory but have nothing to do with her new life in America. On her visits to Israel, she finds herself increasingly distanced from her home country: “Could a street too age, she wondered, finding that even her parents’ street, like its inhabitants, had greatly aged.” Lee segues from a close third-person perspective to Lily’s first-person voice, a technique that comments on how memory distances a person from the self. Indeed, the novel is far less about the events of Lily’s life than about the way she remembers these events and their associated people and places. The detailed summary and examination of every change in Lily’s life may prove a bit languid for some readers. That said, the secrets surrounding the circumstances of Amos and Lily’s affair create strong narrative tension. More interesting than the interpersonal relationship, though, is the way that Lee presents the relationship between writing and memory.

A pensive novel about emotional and physical displacement.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5120-6592-3

Page Count: 344

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

more