A heartfelt, inspiring, and relevant memoir.

A DREAM CALLED HOME

A MEMOIR

An award-winning author’s account of how she became the first person in her family to attend college and live the dream of becoming a writer.

When Grande (The Distance Between Us, 2012, etc.), a former undocumented Mexican immigrant, left Los Angeles in 1996 for the University of California, Santa Cruz, she was both excited and afraid. Two older siblings had dropped out of college, broken her alcoholic father’s heart, and made him “[give] up on me.” He had also exiled them from his life to facilitate the return of the second wife he had divorced. By the time Grande left community college for UCSC, her main sources of emotional support were a professor and a boyfriend who had been accepted to another college. At first, the author felt out of place on the nearly all-white UCSC campus; gradually, she found a place among other Hispanic students and in the university’s creative writing program. But the ghosts of her past continued to haunt her. When, for example, the mother who had abandoned her sent Grande’s sister back to Mexico for “running wild,” Grande brought the young girl to Santa Cruz only to be profoundly disappointed by her sister's bad behavior. After graduation, she returned to LA idealistic, believing that a degree would automatically grant her success. Instead, she floundered, unsure of how to begin her writing career. Then she stumbled into a teaching job. She began to make her dream of a middle-class life a reality, but at the expense of her writing. Now a single mother but no less determined to succeed on her terms, she earned a place in the Emerging Writers program, where she finally found the creative path she had been seeking all along. Candid and emotionally complex, Grande’s book celebrates one woman’s tenacity in the face of hardship and heartbreak while offering hope to other immigrants as they “fight to remain” and make their voices heard in a changing America.

A heartfelt, inspiring, and relevant memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7142-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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