Though it attests to the artist’s singularity, this incisive, illuminating biography also serves as an elegy to one of the...

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PETTY

THE BIOGRAPHY

A biography of a reticent musician that will allow even his biggest fans to see him with fresh eyes and hear him with fresh ears.

Zanes (Revolutions in Sound: Warner Bros. Records: The First Fifty Years, 2009, etc.) plainly sympathizes with the plight of his subject, an artist who held his band together through decades, tensions, drug addictions, personnel shifts, and solo albums (that often fared better commercially than Petty’s work with his long-standing and much acclaimed band, the Heartbreakers). The author’s own band, the Del Fuegos, even toured with Petty’s, so he’s had personal experience from a couple of perspectives on “the point of the tour when one could hate the sound of the next man’s breathing.” But it was the author’s book on Dusty Springfield that captured Petty’s interest and apparently gained him access to nearly everyone who might present a well-rounded story of an artistically ambitious rocker, one who persevered despite considerable odds and adversity. Zanes also understands how talented musicians in a supporting role (that gives them a lesser financial share than their leader) might feel stifled serving his vision and betrayed by his solo projects and collaborations with outsiders. The narrative climaxes with Petty divorcing, falling in love, becoming addicted to heroin, mourning the deaths of parents and a band mate, isolated from the rest of the Heartbreakers, and suffering from clinical depression so severe he could hardly leave his bed. Zanes brings a depth and empathy to the narrative that never veers toward sensationalism. He also shows how and why Petty became George Harrison’s closest friend, how the band found itself working with both Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, and how Petty has found fulfillment within the delicate balances of his life.

Though it attests to the artist’s singularity, this incisive, illuminating biography also serves as an elegy to one of the golden eras of the classic rock band—of the days when “a band was everything, a shield and a shelter.”

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9968-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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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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