Eye-opening reading for anyone interested in learning more about refugees and their plights.

I JUST WANTED TO SAVE MY FAMILY

A French legal expert’s account of how efforts to rescue his Syrian refugee in-laws turned into a protracted legal and political nightmare.

Pélissier married his wife, Zena, in 2012, just as the conflict in her native Syria began to intensify. In 2013, while visiting her parents, the newlyweds discovered that war had forced them to move from the outskirts of Damascus to an area they believed was safer. Over the next two years, the family endured the kidnapping and imprisonment of Zena's father, the rejection of their application for asylum in France, and a grueling journey involving smugglers that took them to Greece and almost cost them their lives. Desperation forced the family to contemplate using human traffickers again to get them into Italy. Unwilling to allow his in-laws to experience further trauma, Pélissier went to Greece in 2015 to take them back to France with him, knowing that French law would allow him to do so without punishment. Greek officials arrested the author and forced him to return home while his in-laws were forced to again use smugglers to help them get to France. In the years that followed, Pélissier and his wife battled to keep her family in their town only to be told everyone—including Zena’s now-ill father—would be deported. In 2016, another town offered the family refugee status, but a year later, Pélissier became embroiled in a long, costly legal battle with the Greek government, which accused him of being a "human trafficker.” Both sobering and informative, this story of human suffering—which is told in both Pélissier’s voice and the voices of some of his relatives—calls necessary attention to the brokenness of democratic legal systems and their terrifying inability to effectively handle ongoing humanitarian emergencies like the Syrian refugee crisis.

Eye-opening reading for anyone interested in learning more about refugees and their plights.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63542-018-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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