Heartfelt counsel from a loving father and solid proof that redemption is possible.

LETTERS TO THE SONS OF SOCIETY

A FATHER'S INVITATION TO LOVE, HONESTY, AND FREEDOM

Reflections on love, freedom, and Black lives.

In 1991, 19-year-old Senghor was convicted of murder and sent to prison. During his 20-year incarceration, which included a total of seven years in solitary confinement, the author and his father exchanged hundreds of letters about being a father, a son, and a Black man. Treasuring that correspondence, Senghor writes his own candid letters to his two sons: 30-year-old Jay, who grew up while his father was in prison, and 9-year-old Sekou, born about a year after his release in 2010. Now a mentor, criminal justice activist, and memoirist, the author pledges to be both an attentive father and engaged citizen. “We can choose to ignore or get angry or let the bile of racism fill our throats,” he writes. “Or we can choose to be entirely present with those around us, entirely open to honest conversations, loving but firm, known as someone who stands for something at all times.” Although “the world doesn’t always look like a place filled with love,” he assures Sekou, “trust me, love is present.” But so, sadly, is systemic racism. The world tells Black children to “suck it up, to be tough, that emotion is weakness, that the cold world is coming for us so we’d better be ready.” The narrative about Black men is “so distorted. We are only ever seen in a one-dimensional way—as trouble or danger or a problem to solve.” Senghor encourages his sons to actively resist, as he has, to change that narrative. He describes in raw detail the degradation he experienced in prison and the consequences of living as an ex-felon. “There is no such thing as full freedom for a man who has served time,” he tells Jay. His achievements as a writer, college teacher, and public speaker have been hard-won. “This book,” he promises his sons, “is my commitment to you that you won’t face what I faced.”

Heartfelt counsel from a loving father and solid proof that redemption is possible.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-23801-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Convergent/Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

GOING THERE

The veteran newscaster reflects on her triumphs and hardships, both professional and private.

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Couric (b. 1957) transforms the events of her long, illustrious career into an immensely readable story—a legacy-preserving exercise, for sure, yet judiciously polished and insightful, several notches above the fray of typical celebrity memoirs. The narrative unfolds through a series of lean chapters as she recounts the many career ascendency steps that led to her massively successful run on the Today Show and comparably disappointing stints as CBS Evening News anchor, talk show host, and Yahoo’s Global News Anchor. On the personal front, the author is candid in her recollections about her midlife adventures in the dating scene and deeply sorrowful and affecting regarding the experience of losing her husband to colon cancer as well as the deaths of other beloved family members, including her sister and parents. Throughout, Couric maintains a sharp yet cool-headed perspective on the broadcast news industry and its many outsized personalities and even how her celebrated role has diminished in recent years. “It’s AN ADJUSTMENT when the white-hot spotlight moves on,” she writes. “The ego gratification of being the It girl is intoxicating (toxic being the root of the word). When that starts to fade, it takes some getting used to—at least it did for me.” Readers who can recall when network news coverage and morning shows were not only relevant, but powerfully influential forces will be particularly drawn to Couric’s insights as she tracks how the media has evolved over recent decades and reflects on the negative effects of the increasing shift away from reliable sources of informed news coverage. The author also discusses recent important cultural and social revolutions, casting light on issues of race and sexual orientation, sexism, and the predatory behavior that led to the #MeToo movement. In that vein, she expresses her disillusionment with former co-host and friend Matt Lauer.

A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53586-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more