An absorbing travel narrative about defining and facing the limitations and opportunities of midlife.

OPEN ROAD

A MIDLIFE MEMOIR OF TRAVEL AND THE NATIONAL PARKS

In this travelogue, a middle-aged couple takes a road trip through a number of national parks.

Having built a successful and happy life on the island of Maui, author Neal and her husband, Mike, were facing life and career milestones, with Neal approaching 50, and Mike about 60. Both were feeling “the gaunt wolf of age…chewing at the backs of our legs.” As Mike, a woodworker and photographer, was beginning his recovery from a major health crisis and Neal teetered on the edge of leaving her rewarding but stressful job as a child/adolescent therapist, the two decided to mark their individual transitions with a monthlong road trip through several national parks. They started close to home with a strenuous backpacking trip into a volcanic crater in Maui’s Haleakalā National Park. From there, they traveled to the more active lava flows of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island and even further afield to mainland national parks, from the spires and slot canyons of Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion to the moss-hung forests and rocky beaches of Washington’s Olympic National Park. Each landscape inspired them while also providing both physical and emotional challenges. As narrator of the adventure, Neal intersperses her account with reflections on her own upbringing, running wild on the beaches of Kauai as the child of hippie parents, and her work as a “kid whisperer,” a therapist for troubled children. The result is a dynamic, engrossing portrait of a woman in midlife on the cusp of a major life decision. The story unfolds neatly as a journey of self-examination, struggles, and joys and leaves the reader with a longing for adventure and an appetite for more of Neal’s writing.

An absorbing travel narrative about defining and facing the limitations and opportunities of midlife.

Pub Date: March 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9896883-9-0

Page Count: 396

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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