The vitriol wears thin, but sharp writing makes this a worthwhile read for fans who know Cleveland’s pain.

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THE WHORE OF AKRON

ONE MAN'S SEARCH FOR THE SOUL OF LEBRON JAMES

An embittered, lifelong Cleveland fan chronicles the painful departure of LeBron James from the Cavaliers, taking stock of his own life in the process.

Among long-suffering fan bases, Cleveland sports fans can make a legitimate claim to the top spot. With no championships to celebrate since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964 (in the pre–Super Bowl era), they have suffered an ignominious procession of near misses and heartbreaking defeats in football, baseball and basketball. When James, perhaps the most physically gifted basketball player ever to grace the hardwood—and a native son from nearby Akron to boot—was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2003, all of that miserable history seemed likely to end. Unfortunately for Esquire writer Raab (Real Hollywood Stories: Inside the Minds of 20 Celebrities, With One A-list Writer, 2008) and his tortured brethren, the next seven years would bring only more pain, with James leading the Cavs to only one NBA Finals appearance, where they came up short. In the summer of 2010, the King took his talents to South Beach, and the author decided to take matters into his own hands, chronicling the now-hated icon’s quest to win a championship with the Miami Heat. Raab hurls intricate helixes of epithet-laden invective at James, though each profane outburst feels less cathartic than it should (the book’s title comes from one such verbal haymaker launched on Twitter). Instead, it’s the author’s blunt evaluation of his own life—including his battles with alcohol, drugs, weight and relationship problems—that resonates as a mirror for Cleveland’s own festering decay and constant struggle. Unlike Cleveland, though, Raab can take solace in the fact that he finally found a good woman and fathered a son, championship victories denied his beloved Cleveland—that, and the fact that James failed in his first attempt to win a championship in Miami.

The vitriol wears thin, but sharp writing makes this a worthwhile read for fans who know Cleveland’s pain.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-206636-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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