A shift in perspective makes a familiar story seem fresh all over again.

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  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

ME AND SISTER BOBBIE

TRUE TALES OF THE FAMILY BAND

A brother-and-sister memoir celebrates more than eight decades of love, family, and music.

Willie and his older sister, Bobbie, are clearly grateful for each other, and readers will be almost as grateful that they decided to share their story together. Most of the details are already familiar for fans of Willie and country music in general, and some are legend. Far less is known about Bobbie, the keyboard player who says little onstage but who has long provided the backbone of Willie’s band, which he has dubbed the Family ever since she joined. The chapters attributed to “Brother” and “Sister” alternate, showing how their lives and destinies have intertwined, even during the extended stretches when they weren’t playing music together. Willie builds a strong case that Bobbie is the musical virtuoso in the family, that her range has allowed him to extend and expand his own, and that she was the “missing piece of my musical puzzle” that made him a beloved institution as a recording and touring artist rather than just a songwriter. Bobbie testifies to how Willie’s innate poetic sensibility and irrepressible likability were present from childhood and how his determination to follow his own instincts eventually paid dividends. Their split narrative covers their many marriages (four for Willie, three for Bobbie) as well as the challenges and heartbreak that Bobbie has faced, information that will be new to most readers. For example, she discusses how she lost custody of her children because of the belief that women shouldn’t be playing music where alcohol was sold; how she was abused by husbands and lovers; and how racism, sexism, and depression would have tragic consequences for her. She also shows how forgiveness, faith, and personal resilience carried her through. Early on, Willie calls her a “heroine,” and readers will agree with that assessment. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

A shift in perspective makes a familiar story seem fresh all over again.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984854-13-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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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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