PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[an] admiring and illuminating new biography of the most powerful woman in American politics ... There’s a pattern in Ball’s book. Again and again, Pelosi is dismissed, first as a dilettante housewife, then as a far-left San Francisco kook, finally as an establishment dinosaur — and throughout, as a woman. She perseveres, driven by a steely faith in her own abilities. And more often than not, she is vindicated ... Despite meticulous reporting and multiple interviews with the House speaker, Ball...doesn’t penetrate her steely exterior, as she herself acknowledges ... To understand her, we can only look to her record.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...searing ... A rich, novelistic tale ... In an endnote, he writes that his book \'occupies a space between journalism and ethnography, with a dash of oral history and biography.\' I don’t know much about the professional rules of ethnography, but some of Bobrow-Strain’s methods are outside of normal journalistic practice ... There’s something admirable in Bobrow-Strain’s approach ... Bobrow-Strain seems determined to avoid the ethical pitfalls inherent in making other people’s lives into literary material. In doing so, though, he requires readers to take a lot on faith ... If the book rings true, it’s because Aida is such a complex and imperfect figure; she is not whom you’d invent if you wanted to write a social justice parable ... When, in one of the book’s most dramatic moments, she wins herself a reprieve that enables her to return to her family, I cried with happiness ... The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez is an illuminating work of literature, not an ideological tract. The story of Aida’s life doesn’t have to prove a point to have value.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewMuch of Brave reads like the diary of a woman driven half-mad by abusive men who assume no one will listen to her ... This bitter history clearly left a mark, and her book is furious and profane, wild and a little unhinged...There’s no glamour in Brave, and very little joy; I’ve never read anything that makes being a starlet sound so tedious and demeaning ... Her sense of martyrdom can be a bit much; she writes of feeling 'robbed' by having to get married on TV before her real wedding ... For most adult readers, it won’t be much of a revelation that Hollywood trades in distortion and exploitation. But I hope Brave finds its way into the hands of teenage girls who may still look to actresses as they try to figure out how they’re supposed to be in the world, girls who aspire to the life McGowan once had.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review...[a] fascinating but often frustrating new book ... In this confusing climate, a cleareyed elucidation of the murky campus rape phenomenon would be enormously welcome. Blurred Lines aims to be that book, but is too sloppy with the facts to succeed ... [Grigoriadis] is terrific at capturing complicated personalities and subtle social dynamics. Her kaleidoscopic tour through the campus sexual assault controversy, which begins and ends with Sulkowicz, introduces readers to rape victims-turned-activists, faux-worldly sorority sisters, young men who say their lives were destroyed by false accusations and the college administrators struggling to enforce rapidly changing rules and norms ... The mistakes in Blurred Lines offer easy justification to anyone who wants to dismiss it. In some ways this is too bad, because parts of it are powerful...Yet while she’s sympathetic to the antirape movement, she’s also willing to challenge its shibboleths, describing cases in which the line between bad sex and sexual assault is in fact hard to discern.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
PositiveSlate[What Happened] is, by turns, fascinating and boring, enjoyably caustic and irritatingly insipid, frank and guarded. But as a historical record, the book seems undeniably important ... Indeed, I wish the book were even more biting. Clinton says she’ll never run for office again, but What Happened nevertheless sometimes feels like a campaign tome, with detailed policy proposals and wistful descriptions of what she’d have done as president. There are lots of inspirational quotes and moments of canned uplift. Clinton doesn’t seem like a naturally introspective person—if she were, she probably wouldn’t be so indomitable in the face of so much loss and pain. She never interrogates the purity of her own motives and seems surprised when anyone else does.
PanNew RepublicThe Forty Rules of Love is a terribly frustrating novel, because almost everything about it is wonderful except for the work itself ... Now, she has written a novel about an American Jewish housewife who finds love with a bohemian Sufi mystic ...tells intertwined stories separated by centuries... Nor does she convey any sense of religious profundity or transcendence. A book that turns on its characters’ spiritual raptures needs at least a hint of the sublime ... The mindless stock phrases pile up, becoming actively irritating as the book goes on ... This book is more evidence that good politics and good intentions do not necessarily make good literature.
PanSlateIt’s a sign of how perilous and debased American life has become that people are putting faith in Ivanka Trump, creator of a line of mediocre synthetic workwear, to head off fascism ... Ivanka makes [Sheryl] Sandberg look like Rosa Luxemburg ... As vapid as Women Who Work is—and it is really vapid—there is a subtle political current running through it, one that helps explains how the socially liberal Ivanka can work for her misogynist ogre of a father. Beneath the inspirational quotes from Oprah and the Dalai Lama and the you-go-girl cheerleading, the message of Women Who Work is that people get what they deserve ... Her refusal to acknowledge any contradiction between her feminism, however superficial it is, and her father’s reactionary politics almost feels like gaslighting.
PositiveSlateLevy’s crushing sense of self-chastisement looms over her new memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply, which expands on 'Thanksgiving in Mongolia.' I gulped the book down, both because I love her voice—brassy and mordant, but also luminous and kind—and because, since that New Yorker piece, I’ve worried about her ... There’s a dark current of guilt running through this book that makes me terribly sad for Levy and that may terrify readers who have the temerity to wish for both exciting lives and stable families ... Part of what makes her book at once so gripping and so unnerving is that she leaves little distance between her authorial voice and the raw immediacy of anguish; her pain feels unprocessed, but that could be by design. Still, the way she frames herself as a cautionary tale seems unhealthy, for herself as well as her audience.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn linking the forcible destruction of one of Stefánie’s identities to the willful jettisoning of another, Faludi seeks to understand the limits of self-reinvention. 'Could a new identity not only redeem but expunge its predecessor?' she asks. Penetrating and lucid as it is, Faludi’s book can’t answer this question. By the end, however, it seems less urgent, because Stefánie’s prickly, particular humanity comes to overshadow concern about categories. Faludi even develops some appreciation for Stefánie’s audacious ability to assume new identities, which, Faludi learns, allowed for real wartime heroism. Her father would tell her a story about dressing up as a Hungarian Nazi to rescue his parents from the fascist Arrow Cross; Faludi hadn’t entirely believed this tale, but she comes to learn that her father understated his valor. She never reconciles her conception of gender with that of her maddening parent, but she reconciles with her, which matters more.
RaveSlate'Even after all I had learned about how impassioned lactivists can be, I was completely floored,' writes Jung. Anyone who reads her important book will be as well.