PositiveThe Washington Post... can feel thin at times, though it’s a testament to Masad’s writing that I wanted more from the world she created: more depth to Iris’s letters, which read more like camp-pen-pal correspondence than confessions from the grave; and more dimension to Maggie’s dad, Peter, who spends most of the novel out of sorts, only to drop a bombshell at the end that feels pat and underexplored ... Yet Masad is deft and incisive about the sometimes-fraught nature of mother-daughter relationships, around which loaded subtext can seem to twist and twine like Christmas lights. And she affectingly plumbs the mind-bending hugeness that is losing a parent.
RaveThe Washington Post... [Wong] paints even more indelicate pictures, in every shade of blue ... for come-lately fans wondering, Where did this tiny filthy phenom come from?!, Dear Girls fills in the gaps ... Wong’s skyrocketing success of late gets lassoed down to earth with humbling, early-years anecdotes about fearing for her life on seedy tours ... can be crude and flippant, LOL-dense and breezy — so breezy, in fact, you will be desensitized to the grossest of Wong’s gross-outs by chapter one, at which point you have already learned how to hold in a fart during yoga. But as with her stage comedy, she is also sneakily thoughtful about the public roles she occupies — Asian American, working mom, woman on comedy stages — and the come-from-behind grind they necessarily demand ... She even offers surprisingly tender takes on her immigrant-minded parents, her sensitive husband (who contributes his own chapter as an afterword) and motherhood, the match that lit her career on fire ... Wong’s daughters should consider themselves lucky to have a self-made, cultural touchstone for a mother, let alone one doling out personalized advice about dating rappers, the importance of travel and surefire signifiers of a worthy Chinese restaurant ... In print, Wong is every inch the crass-master she plays on TV, so gird your gag reflex.
John Von Sothen
MixedThe Washington Post... offers dozens of inside-baseball insights into a place that continues to mystify and enchant ... despite the fact that both families boast aristocratic backgrounds, which von Sothen seems mildly obsessed with — it remains annoyingly unclear how he affords the country house near Normandy, the membership to the chichi \'pony club,\' the urban square footage that inspires a neighborhood kid to ask how he \'became a millionaire,\' and the weeks-long vacations to Italy. Of course, that’s not the point ... in any case, von Sothen offers some delicious, uniquely French details about all those tony trappings ... Von Sothen offers some incisive takes on French politics ... Occasional flashes of snootiness read as more than a little tone deaf. Then again — what’s a book about the French without a little well-meaning snobbery?
MixedThe Washington PostWould you judge me if I said I did not see the ending of The Silent Patient coming? That I read all 323 pages of Alex Michaelides’s best-selling psychological thriller and did not deduce the twist until he wanted me to (page 304)? And that I still did not understand the hows and whys until he fully explained, in elementary-my-dear detail, the convoluted psychology at play (pg. 312)? ... a deft thriller that will surely cost you sleep as you try, and fail, to put it down ... The plot of The Silent Patient, with my limited experience in the genre, felt fresh to me. What did not—what I’d certainly seen before—were some of the novel’s hacky horror tropes ... Trite scenes pop up throughout.
PositiveThe Washington PostResonated, more than I wanted to admit ... Still, Power manages to keep her wits about her, maintaining a wry, cheeky style that should appeal to self-help skeptics ... reads like a novel, with full-color recurring characters, including love interests, an increasingly exasperated roommate and Power’s pragmatic, farm-raised mom always ready with a one-liner.
MixedThe Washington PostMoore vacillates between being hopeful and defeatist, between seeking movie-worthy romantic love...and darting off on exhaustive emotional sprints ... Moore’s writing often reads like an angsty teen’s diary: sometimes overwrought...sometimes comically self-pitying...sometimes dismissively breezy...and sometimes prone to triumphant swells of self-approval ... Still, Moore’s story offers insights about the effects of childhood trauma and our capacity for resilience ... a sobering statement on our culture—and a reminder that we could all use a little more connection, familial or otherwise.
PositiveThe Washington PostBeing unfiltered — while brazenly insisting that nothing is sacred — clearly enticed the publishers of Philipps’s memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little. For their sake, and that of her 1.3 million Instagram followers, she gamely opens up about her sometimes-fraught family life in suburban Arizona, her devastating early sexual experiences, including a teenage abortion, and all the withering ways the industry has continued to break her heart. After two decades in Hollywood, she writes, \'the rejection has never gotten easier for me.\' ... for fans who hang on to her every diet tip and sweaty workout, Philipps’s unabashed unabashedness is exactly what they came for.
PositiveThe Washington PostSneakily incisive ... Robinson is nothing if not accessible ... Yes, there’s room for levity amid the \'Major Trash that’s the world right now\'— and thankfully, Robinson’s sophomore effort has more than enough to go around.
PositiveThe Washington PostKemper’s essays aren’t so much earnest recollections as caricaturesque sendups ... a bit like the characters she plays — maybe not the most cerebral, substantive or compelling, but charming when you least expect it.
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally
PositiveThe Washington PostAmong the questions that never get answered in The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s relationship memoir, is the one you probably most want to ask: Will they adopt me? But over the course of several breezy recorded conversations (and a few delightful essays), the happily married actors cover nearly everything else—just as playfully, endearingly and wait-why-can’t-I-be-their-legal-offspring-again-ingly as you might expect ... The free-flowing conversation format tends to make things repetitive—how many times can one married couple talk about bedding? (Wait, don’t answer that.) But it also makes you feel privy to a world that’s uniquely theirs, as though you’re sitting beside them at the kitchen table while they solve their beloved jigsaw puzzles. That’s about as close to legal adoption as you’re likely to get.
PositiveThe Washington Post... the richness of Kya’s inner life, so evocative in earlier chapters, seems absent in the courtroom. For such an astute observer of living things, having spent years mesmerized by the feathers of night herons and mating patterns of bullfrogs, there’s little observation of the fresh humanity around her ... if the courtroom scenes aren’t as evocative and immersive as what came before, at least they’re compulsively readable, split into quick-cut interactions and capped by swelling closing arguments that scream out for life as a screenplay.