Biography

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames: A Memoir by Justine Cowan - Book Review

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$27.99
ISBN: 9780062991010
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Published: Harper - January 12th, 2021

In this often heartbreaking combination of biography, memoir and social history the author explores her relationship with her difficult, demanding mother Eileen, the “Dorothy Soames” of the title. Unknown to the author, her mother was illegitimate and had been given up to London’s Foundling Home. Dating back to the 1700s, it was founded as a home for illegitimate children, originally to raise them and train them for service. Although physical needs were met, emotional ones often were not. Given the childhood trauma she endured, Eileen had tremendous difficulty nurturing her daughter and consequently Cowan became estranged from her. It was not until after her mother’s death that she began to look into her mother’s history and try to begin to understand her. This often sad memoir reminds us that often we don’t appreciate what hardship or emotional pain some difficult people we have known may have endured. Cowan’s book is a brave and honest effort to come to terms with how the harms inflicted on one person ripple down to the next generation. ~ Reviewed by Tambra Johnson Reap


Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford - Book Review

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$27.99
ISBN: 9781250305978
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Published: Flatiron Books: An Oprah Book - June 1st, 2021

In this outstanding American memoir, Ashley C. Ford raises the bar on the artform and perhaps opens the door for new contemporaries. Her testimonial of an impoverished childhood, marked by the absence of her imprisoned father and ongoing vulnerability to her struggling single mother is delivered with lucid honesty and without blame. Ultimately, Ashley's story is about love - familial love and self love. Despite a childhood of harrowing experiences, her reflections build to a crescendo of proudly becoming her best self. Ashley's story is sure to resonate, be admired, and inspire a very wide audience. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker


Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef - Book Review

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Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374600181
Availability: Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 5th, 2021

Challenging Egyptian politics and patriarchy, Wassef and two other women had the courage to open an independent bookstore in Cairo in the early 2000s. In this fluent account, Wassef bluntly bares her singular passion to bring books to the masses, and to succeed in an enterprise that society dismissed as a hopeless quest. ~ Reviewed by Mike Hare


One Friday in April: A Story of Suicide and Survival by Donald Antrim - Book Review

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$25.00
ISBN: 9781324005568
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 12th, 2021

On that April Friday Antrim precariously, and literally, held on to life on a Brooklyn rooftop. His subsequent survival, which he recounts with unadorned honesty, has been a harsh struggle illuminated by bursts of hope. Antrim's story is ultimately a gift to those affected by compulsions to end it all. ~ Reviewed by Mike Hare


The Last Diving Horse in America: Rescuing Gamal and Other Animals--Lessons in Living and Loving by Cynthia A. Branigan - Book Review

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$28.00
ISBN: 9781101871959
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Published: Pantheon - September 28th, 2021

When the disturbing, surreal spectacle of diving horses finally concluded in 1980, Branigan bought Gamal, the last equine to take the plunge. In her blue-ribbon narrative, Branigan describes how her dedication to Gamal, and eventually hundreds of other animals, was profusely repaid by their own unfettered devotion. ~ Reviewed by Mike Hare


Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal by Brett Ann Stanciu - Book Review

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$15.00
ISBN: 9781586422691
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Published: Steerforth - September 14th, 2021

This thought-provoking book, part memoir and part sociological tract, was written by a librarian in a small Vermont town who was rightfully concerned when someone was routinely breaking into the library building. Suspicion fell upon a local man who had a history of drug abuse. After his suicide, she is haunted by the feeling that she should have done more to reach out to the troubled man. She embarks upon a personal crusade to better understand the causes of addiction and the treatments that are available to aid those caught in its web. This is a dark look at the Green Mountain State, where the profusion of drugs cast a long, tragic shadow over bucolic settings of pristine snowfalls and bright autumn leaves. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves


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