MixedNew York Times Book ReviewThe succinct and haunting title of Vince Granata’s imperfect memoir of how his brother Tim, suffering from schizophrenia, bound their mother’s wrists with duct tape one July afternoon in 2014 and killed her in the family room of their house in Orange, Conn., using two serrated knives and two sledgehammers ... The family’s love and mortification are evident between the lines of this book, but remain insufficiently explored. By the time of the killing Tim had withdrawn from college. Their mother, Claudia, collected books about coping with schizophrenia, and hid them under her bed ... Unfortunately, this memoir hews to the family myth even as it seeks to expose it. In therapy, after the fact, Granata comes to realize that he is “a people pleaser,” and this is the problem. The author can’t bring himself to subject his family to the dissection that the story requires; despite his decision to write about them, his impulse is still to protect them ... His father and brother Chris are largely absent from its pages, their silence implying, perhaps, their disapproval. His sister, Lizzie, is present, but her portrayal is qualified: Her brother dares not speak for her. And yet, this is what memoirists do. They push and probe, complicate answers, reinfect old wounds. They presume to know what others are thinking and feeling, and then turn the interrogation lamp on their most intimate, protected places ... Telling this story is an act of bravery, but Granata needed to linger more in the painful places; he reaches for his love for his brother, but he also needed to hold his mother’s heart in his hands. \'There are ways my mother failed,\' he writes, and then, conceding how difficult this admission is for him, runs from the sentence as if it were a grenade.
RaveThe Washington PostThe many endnotes in Lawrence Wright’s book on the church, Going Clear, are the first clue that this author is not fooling around ... brings a clear-eyed, investigative fearlessness to Scientology — its history, its theology, its hierarchy — and the result is a rollicking, if deeply creepy, narrative ride, evidence that truth can be stranger even than science fiction ... Wright does not muck up his story with the smarmy outrage that characterizes so much writing about religion. He merely lets the details speak for themselves ... That Cruise does not get more than a passing mention until halfway through the book is a testament to Wright’s even-handed treatment of his sensational material. But when he does, it’s worth the wait.
Linda Kay Klein
RaveThe CutPart memoir and part journalism, Pure is a horrendous, granular, relentless, emotionally true account of how it feels to be taught—by parents, neighbors, teachers. and pastors—from the youngest age that one’s sexuality (including organs, physical body, and sexual impulses) is disgusting, a mind-set that can lead to only one place: that deep inside, the girl is disgusting, too. Popular writing about conservative religion, especially by secular authors, is often cliché ... She is not a secular outsider, calling out the sexual abuse and subordination of women in the Evangelical world with the condescension and shock of one who \'knows better.\' She is an insider who has, through much anguish, shed the damaging constraints of her upbringing ... I have never seen anywhere a more intimate and heart-rending description of what it’s like to be 14 or 15 or 20 years old living under the expectations Evangelicals have about \'purity\' ... There will be readers who are tempted to place Pure atop their pile of outrage porn, to tweet and blog about its revelations as more evidence of the hegemony of patriarchy and the oppressions levied upon women—this time by organized religion. They won’t be wrong. But for me, the value of this book is in its gentle and sympathetic descriptions of how a girl learns to absorb the lessons of her oppressive culture and to internalize them.