A book primarily for baseball fans, but it offers plenty of material for readers interested in U.S. race relations.

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LIFE STORIES AND LESSONS FROM THE SAY HEY KID

Living legend Mays (b. 1931) and San Francisco Chronicle baseball writer Shea present fresh material about the often chronicled career of the superstar center fielder.

The title refers to Mays’ jersey number and also corresponds to the number of chapters in this conversational book. The majority of the text contains Shea's words about the Hall of Famer, but Mays’ own words are scattered throughout each chapter along with an excellent array of photographs from every stage of his life. The narrative is upbeat in the sense that the hundreds of individuals quoted are consistently enthralled by Mays' sterling character, positive outlook, and baseball talent. But it’s not all sunshine. Mays faced intense racism after transitioning from the Negro Leagues to white-dominated Major League Baseball. Though Jackie Robinson became the first black player to break the color barrier, the role of Mays as a racial pioneer in MLB is unquestionable. His white teammates and his few black mentors tended to protect him instinctively from the most repulsive racism, almost surely because of his winning personality as well as his on-field talents. In chapters framed by various life lessons—e.g., “Set an Example,” “Have Fun on the Job,” and “Benefit From Versatility”—the authors illuminate Mays’ stellar career; service in the Army in the early 1950s; meetings with many U.S. presidents, with Barack Obama as the most special; and the similarities and differences between him and players of his own era, especially Hank Aaron, as well as modern stars such as Barry Bonds and Mike Trout. Despite the scandal involving Bonds’ use of performance-enhancing drugs, Mays is adamant that he deserves entry into the Hall of Fame. Bob Costas provides the foreword, noting that “a strong case can be made for Willie Mays as the greatest all-around player in baseball history.”

A book primarily for baseball fans, but it offers plenty of material for readers interested in U.S. race relations. (color printed endpapers, 68 b/w photos)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23042-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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