RaveNew York Times Book ReviewIf the dead are never safely dead, and the past never past, the beauty of Tasha is in Morton’s very struggle to get Tasha right on the page, once and for all. With humility and grace, he tells us that he has failed his mother by not seeing her as a full and complete person, one with great courage, complexity and strength. But it is a gift of mature adulthood — and perhaps the work of writing memoir — to see our parents as people who exist outside of their centrality in our lives ... [A] lucid memoir ... Following her death, he offers a deeply stirring passage in which his cleareyed, empathetic understanding of his mother is channeled into her own voice as she might have railed against him in a torrent of onrushing words, never for an instant letting himself off the hook.
MixedThe New York Times... uneven, provocative ... I’m not sure I’ve ever read, much less reviewed, a memoir that has gotten under my skin the way this one has. Just ask my editor. I tried to wriggle out of this review, because I found myself judging Frangello harshly, scribbling notes like OMG and stop and no!! in the margins ... posits itself as a feminist manifesto, and its author veers between the two poles that are the greatest no-no’s in writing about the self: revenge and justification bordering on self-congratulation. She does this in increasingly dizzying recursive loops, arriving again and again at the same descriptions, questions and conclusions, without ever deepening her inquiry. She begins by placing herself and her story into a sociological context, hoping, one can only assume, to enlarge it by association ... With the exception of her children, no one escapes the force of Frangello’s fury, which has the effect of rendering her unreliable. She torques the people in her life into cleverish caricatures ... The literary trouble with rage on the page is that it leaks into everything ... the reader does not wish to be convinced or coerced. The reader wishes to be moved, to feel that powerful sense of empathy and connection that draws us in rather than keeps us on the outside of the crime scene, gawking.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewChristie Tate’s Group is one of those rare memoirs that can be accurately described as honest and raw, and I don’t entirely mean that as a compliment ... But ultimately Group is a bit unsure of what it wants to be. Tate’s language is at times lyrical, as in a description of the aftermath of a childhood tragedy; at other times, her breezy tone has a reductive, sitcom-ish quality and her descriptions veer into stereotype ... Still, Tate’s hard-won willingness to become loving and to be loved ultimately shapes a story that has a lot of heart.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis awareness — of time, luck, fate and 'the feeling of having pulled my head, one more time, out of the noose' — drives O’Farrell’s story. She reminds us that we all live a hairbreadth from death ... I Am I Am I Am is at its strongest when she describes the intensity of her love and sense of responsibility for her own three children, and her fear of unwittingly putting them in harm’s way ... If I have a quibble with this book, it’s that there are a few spots where O’Farrell’s wise and lyrical voice veers toward the didactic, including footnotes and journalistic asides that distract from the deep emotional resonance. In the end, this memoir is a mystical howl, a thrumming, piercing reminder of how very closely we all exist alongside what could have happened, but didn’t.