PanThe Washington Post\"But things get leaden right away ... The plot drags on — the phrase \'the plot thickens\' appears without obvious irony. At times the book reads like a dime-store romance novel ... Elsewhere, you can almost see Finn consulting a thesaurus ... Even readers looking past Finn’s personal woes — or those looking at them and wishing him well anyway — will quickly be hoping for end of story.\
RaveThe Washington Post\"In her new memoir, Frieda Hughes rarely mentions her famous parents, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. But their absence — in life and art — underscores this poignant and often funny story about, of all things, her relationship with a magpie ... Part of the charm of this book is that the author doesn’t dwell on her pain or her past or the reasons why. On a spectrum of people-animal memoirs, the book falls closer to Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk than John Grogan’s Marley and Me. Still, it is not especially cerebral or didactic, and that is not meant as a criticism. It’s a passionate book about unconditional love and commitment. It’s also fast-paced and suspenseful, full of amusing anecdotes, poems and Hughes’s sweet drawings of George.\
RaveThe Washington PostIn her new memoir, How to Forget, Mulgrew shares a moving personal story that’s a scriptwriter’s (and actor’s) dream. It’s full of love and heartbreak—of affairs and deaths and lives undone—as melodramatic at times as Ryan’s Hope, the soap opera Mulgrew once starred in. That the book is autobiography makes its many shocking details all the more powerful ... That How to Forget has been shelved in the \'dysfunctional family\' category is not surprising. But the book is not just a series of wild anecdotes from a therapist’s couch. It’s a story about how devotion and love persist despite those wild anecdotes ... Her flair for drama might lead some readers to wonder about her precise recall of conversations that happened years ago—always a question with the most vivid memoirs—but it makes for a captivating reading experience. You’ll never forget Derby Grange and the happy and heartbroken family that lived there.
PositiveThe Washington Post\"Inheritance is consumed by the question of what if? What if the man Shapiro thought was her father is not? What if she could find the man who is her biological father? What if he doesn’t want anything to do with her? What if he does? What if she is not who she thought she was? ... Inheritance is fundamentally a tale of soul-searching. Much of the book consists of Shapiro processing and pondering each new bit of information ... Inheritance offers a thought-provoking look at the shifting landscape of identity. It will make you think twice before you casually spit into that vial.\
Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
RaveThe Washington PostClemantine writes candidly about the moment that turned her into \'the Oprah Girl,\' and how that role has been both a blessing and a burden ... The Girl Who Smiled Beads is at once terrifying and life-affirming. And like those memoirs, it painstakingly describes the human cost of war.
RaveThe Washington PostThe Bright Hour is a stunning work, a heart-rending meditation on life — not just how to appreciate it while you’re living it, but how to embrace its end, too. It is this year’s When Breath Becomes Air ... Riggs barely pauses to pity herself or her family. She trudges forward with the kind of strength and humor that make reading her account a bittersweet pleasure. Her wit is sharp and her observations lyrical ... Written in the present tense, it feels present, as if Riggs is in the room talking to you — that witty friend who makes you laugh and ponder big thoughts even as she quietly suffers. It makes the last pages especially moving.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
PositiveThe Washington Post...offers, as its title advertises, 15 ways that we — parents, mostly — can encourage girls to be strong, to plant the seeds of feminism. But more than that, Adichie hopes the book will help 'move us toward a world that is more gender equal.' ... Much of Dear Ijeawele will feel familiar to those who know Adichie’s previous works, but this book is more personal, more urgent ... The book delves into the personal as well as the political. Adichie points to Hillary Clinton as a prime example of the unfair way women are judged.
PositiveThe Washington PostIn these pages, Waldman comes off as a combination of an endearingly wired best friend and oversharing malcontent. She spares no detail about her odd neuroses and she cops to often being volatile and irritable. Few are spared from her anger, she tells us, including herself ... push past the sometimes amusing asides and you’ll be rewarded with an intriguing and thorough look at the therapeutic possibilities of an illegal drug. Waldman really is a nerd (in a good way), and her book is an engaging and deeply researched primer on a taboo subject and a compelling case for more research on it.
RaveThe Washington Post...the sensational, devastating story draws you into Aitkenhead’s book. What keeps you there is its author, a writer for the Guardian whose voice is like that of a wise and witty friend. Aitkenhead doesn’t play her story for tears or sentimentality.
RaveThe Washington Post[Hepola] is eloquent in her honesty as she traces her wild days from the perspective of newfound sobriety. Alcohol was 'not a cure for pain,' she now sees, 'it was merely a postponement.' Like Caroline Knapp’s powerful 1996 memoir Drinking: A Love Story, Blackout is not preachy or predictable: It’s an insightful, subtly inspiring reflection by a woman who came undone and learned the very hard way how to put herself back together.
RaveThe Washington Post...written as he faced a terminal cancer diagnosis, is inherently sad. But it’s an emotional investment well worth making: a moving and thoughtful memoir of family, medicine and literature. It is, despite its grim undertone, accidentally inspiring.