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CROSSING THE LINE

FINDING AMERICA IN THE BORDERLANDS

A powerful exposé of the human costs of America’s immigration policies.

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Towle, an educator and activist, confronts America’s immigration system in this debut nonfiction book.

“Whatever the answer” to America’s immigration crisis, writes the author, “a dream deferred—dried up like a raisin in the sun—is indeed justice denied.” To refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants from around the world, America has long stood as a haven of peace, prosperity, and freedom. Over the last two decades, however, the U.S. has been at the forefront of a new global paradigm that prioritizes national security above human rights, per Towle’s eye-opening narrative. Focusing on what she calls the “Border Industrial Complex,” the author outlines the ways in which the U.S. and Europe have forged a system of “global apartheid” through draconian visa requirements, passport controls, border walls, and other anti-immigration policies. The book offers readers an astute analysis that provides a well-researched overview of the current immigration system as well as historical context for the ways in which racism and xenophobia have shaped American policy in the past. Bipartisan in her critiques, Towle traces the modern roots of America’s anti-immigration ethos from Reagan through Clinton to the post-9/11 Bush administration, though she also holds the Obama and Biden administrations to account for their subsequent complicity. The book stands out by centering the lived experiences of the victims of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), particularly the subagency known as Enforcement and Removals Operations (“aka ICE Air, ‘the deportation machine’”). Working with the Texas A&M University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic and the Cameroon Advocacy Network and privileged with white skin that allowed her to “cross borders with relative ease,” Towle shares her firsthand experiences at the U.S.-Mexican border, where she met freedom-seekers whose home countries spanned from Central America to Cameroon. The author’s observation that merely seeing and documenting the experiences of victims is a “subversive act” powerfully underscores the stories of mothers ripped away from their children, men detained indefinitely without due process during the Covid-19 pandemic that “turned prisons into death traps,” and asylum-seekers returned to the violent battlefields of war-torn countries.

A powerful exposé of the human costs of America’s immigration policies.

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9781647425791

Page Count: 424

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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