A breezy, upbeat, and honest reflection of this multitalented artist.

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SOUNDS LIKE ME

MY LIFE (SO FAR) IN SONG

A chart-topping singer/songwriter exposes “the inner workings of my mind and my heart” through this intimate essay collection anchored with music and humor.

A five-time Grammy Award nominee, Bareilles conveys her life and career in a series of heartfelt, confessional ruminations written with the passion with which she hones her musical craft, forming an entertaining and candid scrapbook chockablock with memories, lyrics, stories, and photographs. A tomboy growing up the youngest of three sisters in northern California’s wooded Humboldt County, the author reveled in building haystacks and catching frogs until her parents’ divorce when she was 12, a devastating event that only exacerbated the self-consciousness she felt as the schoolyard “fat kid…the label I was given by my peers.” Getting in shape and becoming active in theater empowered her throughout adolescence and shaped her onstage presence. The chapters are each named for a song in her repertoire: “Gravity” describes a formative and exquisitely crushing encounter with heartbreak, while “Love Song” chronicles the author’s years as a flourishing artist on the singer/songwriter circuit in Los Angeles (she signed her first record deal in 2005). A unique epistolary section called “Beautiful Girl” includes letters to her former selves to exorcise the demons of the past. Mostly sidestepping hackneyed platitudes for true sentiment, the singer remains genuine whether discussing what she learned while writing on a deadline, the development of her recent theatrical adaptation of “Waitress,” or the vulnerability of exposing her life “without the metaphor and mask of music or my singing voice.” Bareilles also demonstrates a sense of humor, much like fellow musician Ben Folds, who admits, in his playful introduction, to initially repurposing one of her “Little Voice” promotional CDs to counterbalance an uneven leg on his entertainment center.

A breezy, upbeat, and honest reflection of this multitalented artist.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-2777-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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

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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

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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