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BOYMOM

REIMAGINING BOYHOOD IN THE AGE OF IMPOSSIBLE MASCULINITY

A thoughtful, well-informed look at boys’ lives.

Examining the challenges of bringing up boys.

Whippman, a British journalist, the author of America the Anxious, and the mother of “three adorable, irrepressible, anarchic, creative, rambunctious, aggressive, big-hearted boys,” brings her anxieties about parenting to an investigation into the biological, psychological, and cultural forces that shape boys’ identity and behavior. In the context of #MeToo and the swirling miasma of toxic masculinity, she finds parenting difficult and, at times, overwhelming. Hoping for insight and even guidance, she talked to psychologists, educators, academics, behavioral researchers, and therapists. She delves into scientific and sociological studies and chronicles her interviews with myriad boys and men—including “misogynistic incels” and residents at a teen therapy center—to help her understand what makes boys who they are. From birth, one researcher told her, boys are different from girls; their brains “are born more immature and vulnerable, and they mature more slowly throughout childhood.” Especially in their early years, they need more nurturing than girls, and yet the opposite often occurs: Girls are cuddled and protected; boys told to act like “big men.” Girls have constant role models of caretaking and emotional connection, while boys lack similar models “that could help them see themselves as connected, emotionally nuanced, relational beings, or even to see these kinds of social-emotional skills as something worth prioritizing and cultivating.” Teenage boys who open up to her about sex, friendship, porn, and depression say they struggle to relate to their friends with the same honesty. “American men are the loneliest they have ever been,” Whippman writes, “and the seeds of this loneliness and emotional disconnection take root during boyhood.” Isolation is also exacerbated by the increasing time boys spend on social media and playing video games. “Connection,” writes the author, “is at the heart of loosening the grip of masculinity.”

A thoughtful, well-informed look at boys’ lives.

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9780593577639

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

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

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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 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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