“Long Live Girl Scouts!” may be the cry on readers’ lips after finishing this tribute to a spirited and inspirational...

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JULIETTE GORDON LOW

THE REMARKABLE FOUNDER OF THE GIRL SCOUTS

Marking the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, this biography brings to life the woman whose efforts galvanized an entire nation of young women.

Cordery (History/Monmouth Coll; Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker, 2007, etc.) vividly evokes an era when the Girl Scouts’ founder, the unconventional Juliette Gordon Low (1860–1927), faced an uphill battle convincing the public that girls deserved the same adventures and patriotic duties as their fellow Boy Scouts. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, camping, hiking and participating in military drills were considered the province of men alone. The head of the Boy Scouts, James West, went so far as to complain that Girl Scouts would “sissify” his organization, and he tried to block Daisy from using the word “Scout,” preferring the more feminine “Guide.” But Low remained undeterred by such threats, pushing ahead with her plan to create a national organization that would bring together girls of all faiths and ethnicities in fun, service-oriented activities. Despite growing up in a wealthy family in the Deep South, Daisy was no stranger to hardship, having married a cad who whisked her off to England, squandered their money and committed adultery. Sadder but wiser after his early death, and suffering from her own lifelong health problems, she strove to create a lasting monument to sisterhood that would foster independence as well as sorority. The Girl Scouts boosted their civic profile by stepping up to fulfill a bevy of tasks during World War I, from nursing to babysitting to growing vegetable gardens. By the ’20s, many original critics of Girl Scouting came to advocate it as a means for transforming wayward, idle young women into strong, nurturing, productive members of society. Although Cordery’s narrative occasionally bogs down in descriptions of the administrative and bureaucratic details of the organization, it nevertheless brightly illuminates the growing pains of both Daisy and her Girl Scouts.

“Long Live Girl Scouts!” may be the cry on readers’ lips after finishing this tribute to a spirited and inspirational American leader.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02330-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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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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