Vivid stories of anguish and survival that are sometimes obscured by genealogical minutiae.

MǪ́LAZHA

(CHILD OF A WHITEMAN)

A Métis clan weathers bitter cold, ethnic bias, and sexual molestation in Canada’s Northwest Territories in this memoir.

Hardy, whose father was a White Canadian and mother was a Métis of mixed European and Shúhta Got’ıne First Nation ancestry, looks back to the 1850s in tracing his family’s history in Fort Norman and other subarctic villages. The author chronicles several generations of forebears: the women bearing heroic numbers of children and the men working as fur traders, clerks, and managers for the Hudson Bay Company. He moves on to his boyhood in Fort Norman, where he traveled by dog sled and absorbed the Métis cultural stew: Families still trapped and hunted but embraced Christianity and prized formal education. The book’s centerpiece is Hardy’s adolescent experience at a Roman Catholic boarding school, where he lived in a dormitory whose supervisor repeatedly raped him and other boys. (He includes a blistering indictment of the church for covering up such crimes.) Later chapters describe his career as a lawyer and Métis rights advocate and plumb the damage wrought by the molestation ordeal, which manifested in his alcoholism and failed marriage. Much of Hardy’s labyrinthine account consists of dry genealogical information that will be of interest mainly to family members. But there are also intriguing snippets of frontier history and lore: an episode of famine and cannibalism; his grandfather’s killing of a moose with a knife; and tales of the monstrous “Náhgáneh” bushman. The author also paints a revealing picture of social tensions, exploring how the Métis uneasily navigated White bigotry and Indigenous resentment and the antagonisms between Catholics and Anglicans. (Before his wedding, Hardy’s Catholic Métis grandfather had to sign a contract guaranteeing that he would let his wife and children practice Anglicanism.) Hardy’s prose, usually lucid and workmanlike, is searing in conveying his victimization at school—“It was about thirty years until I started losing the rotten smell of his body, which was ground into my senses”—and lyrical in evoking nature. (“There would be” the northern lights, “swirling like paintbrushes, spreading colour across the skies, which were filled with bright stars that glittered like diamonds.”) Beneath the reams of family factoids, readers will get an authentic and sometimes harrowing view of life in the Northwest Territories.

Vivid stories of anguish and survival that are sometimes obscured by genealogical minutiae.

Pub Date: April 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-03-912667-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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