Life after Death by
The New York Times –
… is a dual memoir, partly about Mr. Echols's boyhood and partly about his prison life…And they make good stories, even if this book's emphasis is often on filth, hellishness and disgust. They are so well told that sometimes sounds like the work of a ghostwriter. But the book reprints enough handwritten pages of Mr. Echols's prison writing to make it very clear that the literary talent is entirely his.
Solo: A Memoir of Hope by
Kirkus Reviews –
The unflinching account of U.S. women's soccer team member Solo's life on and off the field. Born in Richland, Wash., a plutonium-producing town "created in the dark shadows of the American dream," Solo came from a family that "[didn't] do happy endings." Her father was a philandering con man who married her mother while still serving a prison sentence for embezzlement. When Solo was 7, he kidnapped her and her brother Marcus from their mother; after he was arrested, she did not see him again for many years. But the damage had already been done. Her home life was fraught with tension that manifested as fights between Solo and her brother and alcoholism in her mother. She found refuge in sports and excelled as a soccer player. By the time she was a high school junior, she had caught the eye of college coaches across the country. Solo chose the University of Washington, where she lived a double life as a respected college athlete and a national soccer team member while gradually rebuilding a relationship with her now-homeless father. Dreaming of World Cup glory, Solo then played for professional teams in the U.S., Sweden and France while continuing to train with the American national team. Never one to hold back, she speaks with great honesty about the difficulty of living in the shadow of the 1999 World Cup championship team. She also reflects thoughtfully on her infamous benching at the 2007 World Cup competition and how the misunderstanding it caused nearly ruined her reputation and professional standing. Through heartache, setbacks and career-threatening injuries, Solo demonstrates not only a fierce determination to overcome, but also the grace of a true champion. A readable, inspiring memoir about staying true to dreams and principles in a world that too often forces personal compromise.
I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High by Tony Danza
Kirkus Reviews –
Surprisingly thoughtful and passionate account of an actor's turn at the helm of an urban high school classroom. After his talk show was cancelled in 2007, Danza (co-author: , 2008) faced a late-career crisis. Weighing his options and feeling personally dissatisfied, he considered becoming a teacher, which led to his show's producer pitching this as a reality TV concept. To his credit, the self-depreciating actor owns up to the obvious doubts readers may harbor about this book or the underwatched show behind it (A&E's ). Initially nervous in the classroom, the affable yet hapless Danza understandably reverted to his chatty, ingratiating stage persona, which failed to impress students in Philadelphia's largest high school. Fortunately, he remained open to advice from his more experienced peers and tried different approaches in the classroom. For many readers, his classroom may seem initially composed of various urban adolescent "types," but they develop into fully realized characters due to Danza's verve and care in discussing them. Danza is generous in praising the full-time teachers who, with some reservation, mentored him. The writing is slick and occasionally mawkish (in Danza's telling, some dramatic classroom moments were punctuated by him bursting into tears), but the author has produced a real discussion of the challenges faced by American high school teachers, rather than merely a celebrity self-reflection. He approaches this project with heart, though his conclusions are grim: "many of those who went through orientation with me have already left the profession because of cutbacks, frustration, and/or their own economic necessity." Teachers will appreciate Danza's advocacy, and perhaps readers who know him from TV will be moved to consider the urgent questions he raises.
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by
From Barnes & Noble –
With a face so recognizable that the cover of his autobiography carries no name, Arnold Schwarzenegger has held our attention for decades in an astonishing variety of roles: bodybuilder and weightlifter; the star of action films and comedies; businessman; and most recently, as the "Governator" of California. In Total Recall, named after one of his most famous film roles, he unrolls the story of his life; from his sometimes troubled childhood in rural Austria to controversies, career changes, and relationships. This revelatory and decisive effort is Schwarzenegger's first personal book since his 1977 bestseller The Education of a Bodybuilder.