RaveThe Libel ReviewJames’s frank commentary and sense of humor provide a trenchant critique of a typical Catch-22: an elite institution wants diversity but doesn’t want to transform itself in order to be safe and welcoming for students of color ... Yara. Indeed, one of my favorite parts of Admissions is how honest James is in describing herself as a teenager ... should be required reading for anyone who works at a boarding school or is thinking of attending one—and, more broadly, anyone who cares about the work of transforming educational institutions. Certainly, I wish I’d had a copy of James’s book when I arrived at Taft, or, at least, that I’d had more awareness about how to talk with students about race or understood at a more granular level that Taft is such a racialized space.
PositiveThe Women’s Review of BooksOver the course of writing this review, I’ve counted nearly two dozen bipolar memoirs—a fascinating number in its own right—and yet very few of them have been penned by writers of color ... Given this scarcity, Bassey Ikpi’s I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying is a welcome addition ... [Ikpi] divides her story into chapters that read like individual essays—each one different in form yet linked together by theme and organized chronologically. This approach allows Ikpi to convey the fragmentation of her existence and to narrate her experience despite uncertainty about what happened and when ... The result is a powerful, if at times elliptical, exploration of the disordered \'order\' of living with bipolar ... Parts of I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying seem written to fill in the gaps of chronology, to fulfill the reader’s desire to understand how Ikpi got from A to B, and these essays do not carry the same weight or thematic resonance as others ... I’ve been witnessing this journey long enough to know that bipolar does not lend itself to easy narrative closure, so I’m willing to set aside my desire for her \'broken\' life to be made whole ... On the other hand, I wanted to hear more from the author about storytelling and language, some insight about the relationship between bipolar and poetry, particularly given her affinity for word play, communication, and creativity. Ikpi seems to have set aside the performative demands of the stage for the more intimate act of writing, and I have to wonder what this has been like. How does this shift in art form affect the narrative of her life, the possibilities of what can be spoken or written about, and how? Despite the ways that her memoir neglects these questions, Ikpi’s courage and candor in committing her story to narrative helps illuminate the complexities of her experience with a visceral and powerful intensity.