WOLF WILLOW

A HISTORY, A STORY, AND A MEMORY OF THE LAST PLAINS FRONTIER (PENGUIN TWENTIETH-CENTURY CLASSICS)

The author of this delightful book, one of America's most distinguished writers, states that it is "A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier", and it follows this subtitle exactly. The "History" is that of the country around the Cypress Hills in Saska, the "Story" a fictional tale of cowboys and cattle in the terrible winter of 19067, the "Memory" the author's nostalgic account of his boyhood in the town he names "Whitemud". In 1914 the author's family, following the American dream of a Garden in the West, migrated from town to Whitemud, then barely born, in southern Saskatchewan, and took up a homestead exactly on the Montana-Canadian border, living there and in Whitemud. Five years later, defeated by drought and poverty, they moved on again; years afterward the author returned to find memory in the smell of the Wolf Willow that grew in the Whitemud streams of his boyhood and through it to recapture the past. Life in Whitemud and in the homestead shack was primitive and ugly, but he learned much from it; loneliness and hunger, the joys of treasure-hunting on the town dump, the fact that "anyone, starting from privation, Is spared getting bored". Of Whitemud's history he learned nothing, for although the nearby Cypress Hills had seen every stage of frontier life the town cared nothing for the past, and he knew nothing of fur-traders or Indians seeking sanetuary; he was barely aware of the Mounties, the half-breed metis, the cattle-men ruined in the winter of 1906. This book, one to be read slowly, savored and re-read, will appeal to those with the West in their bones and to searchers for the vanished frontier in its not so-distant reality.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1962

ISBN: 0141185015

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1962

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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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