A solid memoir mostly for fans of the band.



A coming-of-age memoir about how the Canadian twin sisters became successful recording artists.

When they started high school, Tegan and Sara Quin considered themselves oddballs, outcasts, and misfits. They were big music fans—Nirvana, Green Day, the Smashing Pumpkins—but had no particular musical aspirations. Other than being identical twins, there was not much to distinguish them from other teenagers trying to navigate the awkward years—certainly nothing to suggest that they would soon become young recording stars and icons of the burgeoning LGBTQ community. These were pivotal years for the sisters, and their musical success would prove transformative. However, music almost seems like an afterthought here, as the authors proceed in alternating chapters to show how their experience was fairly typical. They did lots of drugs, got blackout drunk on occasion, went to parties that got out of control, experienced their sexual awakenings, and wrestled with their sexual identities. Both had boyfriends and girlfriends, and both struggled with the issue of whether a particular girl was her best friend or something more. They also fought a lot. The music came when they found a guitar that belonged to their stepfather and separately began writing songs and then harmonizing with each other’s songs. The sisters also hid many of their experiences from each other, so it proved cathartic to write and share. “I wrote lyrics that sometimes felt too close to the bone,” remembers Sara, recalling how the unraveling of her relationship with her girlfriend contributed to her songwriting surge. After arranging the song with her sister, she writes, “when we finished, I felt lighter.” Their friends became fans of their music, and a self-recorded cassette helped expand that fandom. Winning a prestigious talent contest earned them studio time, and they marked their 18th birthdays by signing with one of the recording labels that had been pursuing them.

A solid memoir mostly for fans of the band.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982112-66-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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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...


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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