An inspiration to peace activists in all theaters of war and struggle and a book that deserves a wide audience.

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THE WORDS OF MY FATHER

LOVE AND PAIN IN PALESTINE

Bashir delivers an urgent, impassioned call for peace between Palestine and Israel.

The words of the Palestinian peace activist’s father are, on the surface, incontestable: Strive for peace, he insisted, for “violence only leads to more violence.” Yet, during the second intifada and in the face of the intransigence of Israel’s government in dividing the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and barring movement between the two Palestinian areas, striving for peace became a difficult proposition to hold up—and one that was particularly difficult to defend in a time of growing militance. By Bashir’s account, the plot of land that his educator father had so carefully improved, building the soil, planting trees by the hundreds and crops by the row, became a dust bowl under a de facto Israeli siege. Moreover, an Israeli soldier shot him for reasons that he finds inexplicable today, paralyzing him for a long period and requiring multiple surgeries. Years later, writes the author, even as he mourns the passing of his father and the loss of the land that his father took pains to tell him was his forever, he found himself thinking obsessively of that transformational event and the Israeli soldier behind the gun. “That single shot had changed my whole life,” he writes, “and I wondered if it had changed his.” In the end, the story comes full circle, as Bashir travels the world to convey the message of peace in the Middle East, the bullet in his back, as he puts it, moving him forward and not restraining him. There is some bitterness nonetheless, especially when he recounts that Israeli soldiers commandeered all the cooking vessels in his family home and then left them behind, each full of feces. Even with that insult, in this eloquent and affecting memoir he adopts another remark of his father’s as his own: “What happened to me makes me believe even more in peace.”

An inspiration to peace activists in all theaters of war and struggle and a book that deserves a wide audience.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-291732-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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