MixedSan Francisco ChronicleWhile the women Orenstein spotlights — including graphic novelist Phoebe Gloeckner, scientist Elizabeth Blackburn, and the women behind Ms. Magazine — are indeed noteworthy and fascinating and Orenstein peppers her profiles with great insight, these haphazard pieces don’t feel like the best entree into Orenstein’s work, especially for readers who may be new to her oeuvre ... Also problematic: Orenstein features only one woman of color — the late Japanese writer and iconoclast Atsuko Chiba — in the seven profiles that comprise this section of the book ... Orenstein turns her focus to boys and young men’s attitudes toward sex and masculinity, the subject of Orenstein’s next book, a project that, like the author’s work on girls and women, will surely break more silences, shed more necessary light.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleTan brings the reader directly into those heart-pounding moments of creation throughout the book. She explores how her mind crafts narratives when she hears music, then draws us into one of those narratives as if we’re watching it unfold with her inside her skull ... Some of the most moving passages in Where the Past Begins are centered on Tan’s mother and their profound, sometimes volatile, relationship ... Tan’s memoir can seem a bit shaggy around the edges, a bit slapped together in places, but that feels true to how her mind works.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleWe all need to hear what Gay has to say in these pages. She reminds us that 'all of us have to be more considerate of the realities of the bodies of others,' that we need to transform public spaces and attitudes to make our world more welcoming and accessible for every living body. Gay says hers is not a success story because it’s not the weight-loss story our culture demands, but her breaking of her own silence, her movement from shame and self-loathing toward honoring and forgiving and caring for herself, is in itself a profound victory.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle...deeply moving … Dark stuff, but The Bright Hour is indeed suffused with brightness — a series of luminous reminders that “the beautiful, vibrant, living world goes on” even in the midst of pain and loss. Riggs died in February, shortly after completing the book; her widower, John Duberstein, provides a touching afterword … Riggs weaves literary criticism into her memoir.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksGray makes them and their suffering tremendously compelling and allows each of them moments of great sympathy ... A few of the lines in the book feel as if they could be embroidered on pillows or posted as social media memes...but the bulk of Gray’s language is fresh and forceful and full of surprise. She brings Isadora’s world to lush, vibrant life ... There is one aspect of Isadora’s life that doesn’t come through as vividly as I had hoped in this novel — her dance ... It is a brutal novel in many ways, completely unrelenting in its depiction of pain, yet that makes it exhilarating, too. Gray is a fearless writer, a writer willing to look into the most profound darkness and find strange, compelling music there.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleThe question at its very heart seems to be: How can we break through limiting narratives about gender and race and power — narratives that silence and harm us in so many ways — and create a more just, empathetic and joyful world? ... In one of her essays, Solnit argues for a way of being that is deft and supple and imaginative or maybe just fully awake in how we imagine and describe the world and our experiences of it,' for speech that 'conduct(s) the orchestra of words into something precise and maybe even beautiful.' How lucky we are that she gives us just that.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle...there is real love behind her tough love — as Polly, Havrilesky only wants her readers to wake up, to get over themselves, to be mensches instead of jerks. And, truly, she is more cheerleader than drill sergeant ... As much as appreciated Polly’s advice, I also found myself moved by the cumulative effect of letters from so many aching, searching souls ... This book reminds us that being a regular, humble, gently worn human may be the most noble vocation of all.