Frank, insightful writing about neonatal medicine and being a parent.

SO MANY BABIES

MY LIFE BALANCING A BUSY MEDICAL CAREER & MOTHERHOOD

A neonatal intensive care physician describes the demands of her practice and the difficulties of achieving work-life balance in this debut memoir.

For 35 years, Landers took care of premature babies and sick newborns in her medical practice. She tells of growing up in South Carolina and moving to Texas, where she completed her medical training, married, and raised three children. The central focus of this memoir, however, is her daily challenge of providing critical patient care, in which she was regularly required to make life-or-death decisions, while also dealing with the requirements of motherhood. Along the way, Landers details some of her standout cases, altering the names of patients and their parents to protect their identities; she discusses the consequences of maternal heroin addiction, a birth of quintuplets, and her treatment of newborn with a depressed skull fracture. One of her toughest cases, she says, involved “a tiny African American baby born at 27 weeks’ gestation, weighing 480 grams (less than one pound).” After becoming a mother, Landers found that, despite her expertise as a neonatologist, she still had much to learn about living with babies. She candidly describes the ways that she felt that her working life came in conflict with her role as a mother; for example, she writes about the difficulty of breastfeeding and working full time, as well as the dangers of burnout. Landers also considers broader issues, including her views that women approach the medical profession differently than men do.

Landers’ approach to writing is concise and forthright. When describing caring for newly admitted babies on radiant warming beds, for instance, she notes, “This work environment tended to dry out your eyes or burn the top of your head….During long procedures, my contact lenses felt like potato chips, and I found myself drenched in sweat.” It’s a no-nonsense style that effectively highlights the physical and emotional strains of working in a NICU. That said, Landers tends to rely on medical jargon, and although she often provides explanations for lay readers, some passages may be obscure to the uninitiated: “Emily had an isolated intestinal perforation—not necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe bowel inflammatory condition.” The power of this memoir, however, lies in its honesty, as Landers is never afraid to address her own shortcomings. A horrifying incident when she lost patience and slapped her son’s legs repeatedly prompts a revealing discussion of the author’s childhood, in which her father was a “harsh disciplinarian,” and her own determination to avoid providing physical punishment as a parent. At the close of the memoir, the author offers a list of what she considers to be the key characteristics for a career in critical care: “Grit, overachieving, and self-discipline are powerful predictors of a successful practice.” Such observations will prove useful for both new and aspiring physicians, but the memoir as a whole will prove to be illuminating for anyone striving to be a caring and effective parent while pursuing a high-stress career.  

Frank, insightful writing about neonatal medicine and being a parent.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63-195450-4

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

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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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