Suvari’s bracing tale of abusive patterns and building new beginnings is wrenching, potent, and ultimately inspirational.



In her powerful debut memoir, the actor demonstrates both candor and storytelling skill.

Suvari is stunningly straightforward about how she survived—and even flourished—despite years of sexual and emotional abuse. There will be tabloid interest in The Great Peace, named for “a book of poetry and stories” she wrote as an escape from her troubled teenage years, but this is much more than a celebrity tell-all. The author unflinchingly reveals that she was raped at age 12 by a childhood friend, discusses her suicide attempt, and examines her numerous questionable relationships with older men as she started her career as a young actor. Though Suvari doesn’t include anything about the sexual harassment allegations against her American Beauty co-star Kevin Spacey, she does tell a story about an unusual ploy Spacey used to prepare for a pivotal scene in the movie. The author also frankly explores the problems with her previous two marriages even though they are not always flattering for her. As an award-winning veteran actor, Suvari is already known as a masterful visual storyteller, and the craftsmanship she exhibits here is impressive. “It was too hard to verbalize some of my traumas, even to my therapist….Those memories were like walls that kept me from escaping,” she writes about her first real experience in therapy. “I had become too used to pretending I was okay.” Each bite-sized chapter skillfully builds on the experiences of the previous one while foreshadowing what is to come, creating a page-turner that propels the streamlined narrative forward. Even when, in the story, Suvari seems stuck in a destructive relationship, she offers enough hints that suggest she’ll make it out. How she does it is a rewarding journey worth taking. “I want [the book] to serve as the flickering light at the end of a dark road showing there is a way out,” she writes in the author’s note. “And there is.”

Suvari’s bracing tale of abusive patterns and building new beginnings is wrenching, potent, and ultimately inspirational.

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-306-87452-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 20

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?