A candid and uplifting musical memoir.

THE BEAT OF MY OWN DRUM

A MEMOIR

A noted percussionist and singer gets personal about her life and rise to fame and fortune.

From a very early age, Escovedo seemed destined to have a musical career. As an infant, the pounding of her percussionist-father Pete Escovedo’s drums “felt like the heartbeat of [her] life.” Though sports were the author’s earliest passion, the older she got, the more music became the outlet for the bitterness, guilt and anger she felt at being raped by a babysitter at age 5 and molested by male cousins for six years after that. Drawn to gangs as a young teenager, Escovedo found salvation in athletics and music. Two years later, she got her first big break when world-famous drummer Billy Cobham asked her to tour with him. At 18, she began a “life-altering” relationship with Carlos Santana. Their association ended when Escovedo discovered he was married, but her own musical star continued to ascend. Soon, she found herself playing backup for such legends as Diana Ross, Chaka Khan and Marvin Gaye. She joined forces with Prince, the second great love of her life, in the early 1980s. He helped her step out of the shadows and become Sheila E., a star in her own right. But money and notoriety took their tolls. Without her realizing it, she became a “mean, demanding and angry” diva. A breakup with Prince and breakdown of her own body led Escovedo to face her past sexual traumas. In the aftermath, she dedicated her life to God and to helping abused and disadvantaged children find “a means of processing their pain” through music. As a chronicle of one woman’s path through the male-dominated worlds of Latin music, soul, funk and pop, Escovedo’s book, written with Holden, is interesting and unique, but its greatest appeal will be to fans who know her best as Sheila E.

A candid and uplifting musical memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1494-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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