A compelling account that shows the difference a single act of kindness can make.
Awards & Accolades
A debut memoir explores college life and friendship.
In this work, Drayton, a writer and the proprietor of A.S. Drayton Books, provides readers with a story about fighting feelings of worthlessness, focusing on how a stranger’s asking him “Are you okay?” one night changed his life. Curiously, Anthony Lunan, this stranger-turned-friend, did not stay in the author’s life for long. Personal circumstances necessitated Lunan’s leaving the university they both attended. Yet Drayton emphasizes that this recollection of a chance meeting is more than a “throwaway” in regard to the rest of the memoir. Lunan brought the author into a circle of friends who remained steady throughout Drayton’s many personal and academic trials and would be around years later to celebrate his forthcoming wedding. This book presents an engrossing picture of the life of a contemporary college student at George Mason University, a public college in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C. As such, this story delivers plenty of rich details and “local color,” including the Washington scavenger hunt that was part of Drayton’s fraternity’s pledge initiation. Indeed, a demand related to this scavenger hunt that the author found deeply offensive is part of his dramatic account of what he describes as a battle for the soul of the fraternity he joined and ended up staying with. He speaks at length about his struggle to find the right woman to love long-term and his fears that he never would. Drayton also recounts with bracing honesty the joys of using a hookah, both privately and in social settings. In addition, he briefly touches on being a Black man between Black and White social worlds. The book’s narrative flows well overall (even with the sometimes-distracting detours into the author’s dreams that seem all too real), though there is something of a disconnect in the account before what should be identified as an epilogue. Still, this is an engaging and human story about finding friendship and gaining confidence.A compelling account that shows the difference a single act of kindness can make.
Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2022
Page Count: 282
Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Britney Spears ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 24, 2023
Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.
Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow
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by Barbra Streisand ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.
When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 992
Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023
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