A useful anti-racist memoir about how anti-racism can make the world safer for all children.


The National Book Award–winning author uses his own life to illustrate the need for anti-racist policy and practices in American schools and homes.

Kendi, professor of humanities at Boston University and one of our foremost scholars on race in America, begins with his wife’s experience as a Black doctor with a medical degree from Yale whose prenatal concerns were ignored by multiple health care workers—an unfortunately common problem that Black women often face in pregnancy and beyond. The author continues by explaining how his daughter’s preschool years motivated him to think through “childproofing” the “racial environment” of his home. He then transitions to his own childhood experiences transferring among eight different schools in order to escape various types of racism, beginning with his kindergarten in Queens, where his teacher labeled him as a behavioral problem despite the fact that he wasn’t acting any differently than his White peers. In a chapter about his brother, Kendi explains the connections between ableism and racism, and he ends with a chapter summarizing the current debates about anti-racist education in school and presenting a clear, impassioned case for why all children benefit from anti-racist instruction. “The most critical part of raising a child is not what we do with our child,” he writes. “It’s what we do with our society. We must keep our individual children safe in this racist soci­ety, while building an antiracist society that can protect all our children.” Rather than illustrating specific parenting techniques, the author uses personal stories to argue for sweeping changes to health care and education. The author’s vulnerability about his own parenting mistakes and schooling mishaps clarifies racist structures with empathy, clarity, and hope for change. While Kendi’s overuse of rhetorical questions and tendency to self-flagellate sometimes feel grating, the book is an excellent introduction to how racism impacts children across the life span.

A useful anti-racist memoir about how anti-racism can make the world safer for all children.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-24253-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.


One of the best pitchers of his generation—and often the only Black man on his team—shares an extraordinary life in baseball.

A high school star in several sports, Sabathia was being furiously recruited by both colleges and professional teams when the death of his grandmother, whose Social Security checks supported the family, meant that he couldn't go to college even with a full scholarship. He recounts how he learned he had been drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round over the PA system at his high school. In 2001, after three seasons in the minor leagues, Sabathia became the youngest player in MLB (age 20). His career took off from there, and in 2008, he signed with the New York Yankees for seven years and $161 million, at the time the largest contract ever for a pitcher. With the help of Vanity Fair contributor Smith, Sabathia tells the entertaining story of his 19 seasons on and off the field. The first 14 ran in tandem with a poorly hidden alcohol problem and a propensity for destructive bar brawls. His high school sweetheart, Amber, who became his wife and the mother of his children, did her best to help him manage his repressed fury and grief about the deaths of two beloved cousins and his father, but Sabathia pursued drinking with the same "till the end" mentality as everything else. Finally, a series of disasters led to a month of rehab in 2015. Leading a sober life was necessary, but it did not tame Sabathia's trademark feistiness. He continued to fiercely rile his opponents and foment the fighting spirit in his teammates until debilitating injuries to his knees and pitching arm led to his retirement in 2019. This book represents an excellent launching point for Jay-Z’s new imprint, Roc Lit 101.

Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13375-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roc Lit 101

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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