Part history lesson, part appreciation for the LGBTQ movement and a show that continues to thrive because of it.

LEGENDARY CHILDREN

THE FIRST DECADE OF RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE AND THE LAST CENTURY OF QUEER LIFE

How the reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race both draws on and influences ideas and inspiration from the LGBTQ community at large.

The LGBTQ community has come a long way, write married bloggers Fitzgerald and Marquez (Everyone Wants To Be Me or Do Me, 2014). It is no longer bound by outdated laws restricting men’s clothing choices or being declared mentally ill. Here, the authors focus on a unique, historically defiant subculture of gay life: drag queens. They spotlight liberators and “street queens” like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who, when faced with the “attempted social genocide” of their demographic, openly confronted and defied designated societal norms and demanded their rights. Elsewhere, the authors celebrate the pivotal personalities who have impacted LGBTQ life through outreach, activism, or within their own personal devotion to drag culture—e.g., Charles Pierce, Jim Bailey, Divine, Leigh Bowery, Lypsinka, and José Sarria, among many others. The authors consistently cross-reference a host of LGBTQ cultural touchstones (“Herstory” lessons) with Drag Race and how it continues to represent queer culture. Fitzgerald and Marquez are generous with show references, sketch and lip-syncing challenge analyses, and how contestants on the show have drawn either acclaim or derision (or both) through their on-air interactions. A description of the show’s Speedo-clad “Pit Crew” dovetails with a discussion on desire and male physique, and the authors compare queens mastering the “art of shade” with the “reading” performers in the 1991 drag documentary Paris Is Burning. Informative, entertaining, melodramatic in its obsessiveness, and written with equal amounts of insight and wit, the book serves as a commemorative archive of drag in American life. Younger LGBTQ readers and RuPaul devotees will most appreciate the authors’ dedication to accurately chronicling the movement, detailing how race and gender blend harmoniously within the drag culture, and the minute details of a colorful and often controversial show that continues to mature.

Part history lesson, part appreciation for the LGBTQ movement and a show that continues to thrive because of it.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-14-313462-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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