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Oksana Masters was born in Ukraine—in the shadow of Chernobyl—seemingly with the world against her. She was born with one kidney, a partial stomach, six toes on each foot, webbed fingers, no right bicep, and no thumbs. Her left leg was six inches shorter than her right, and she was missing both tibias.Relinquished to the orphanage system by birth parents daunted by the staggering cost of what would be their child’s medical care, Oksana encountered numerous abuses, some horrifying. Salvation came at age seven when Gay Masters, an unmarried American professor who saw a photo of the little girl and became haunted by her eyes, waged a two-year war against stubborn adoption authorities to rescue Oksana from her circumstances.In America, Oksana endured years of operations that included a double leg amputation. Still, how could she hope to fit in when there were so many things making her different?As it turned out, she would do much more than fit in. Determined to prove herself and fueled by a drive to succeed that still smoldered from childhood, Oksana triumphed in not just one sport but four—winning against the world’s best in elite rowing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, and road cycling competitions. Now considered one of the world’s top athletes, she is the recipient of seventeen Paralympic medals, the most of any US athlete of the Winter Games, Paralympic or Olympic.This is Oksana’s astonishing story of journeying through a series of dark tunnels—and how, with her mother’s love, she finally found her way into the light. Her message to anyone who doesn’t fit in: you can find a place where you excel—where you have worth.
If we’re lucky, we all encounter at least one person whose life elevates and inspires our own. For acclaimed novelist Daniel Wallace, he had one hero and inspiration for so much of what followed: his longtime friend and brother-in-law William Nealy. Seemingly perfect, impossibly cool, William was James Dean, Clint Eastwood, and MacGyver all rolled into one, an acclaimed outdoorsman, a famous cartoonist, an accomplished author, a master of all he undertook, William was the ideal that Daniel sought to emulate. But when William took his own life at age 48, Daniel was left first grieving, and then furious with the man who broke his and his sister’s hearts. That anger led him to commit a grievous act of his own, a betrayal that took him down a dark path into the tortured recesses of William’s past. Eventually, a new picture of William emerged, of a man with too many secrets and too much shame to bear.
On January 5, 1975, the world was supposed to end. Under strict instructions, six-year-old Guinevere Turner put on her best dress, grabbed her favorite toy, and waited with the rest of her community for salvation—a spaceship that would take them to live on Venus. But the spaceship never came.Guinevere did not understand that her family was a cult. She spent most of her days on a compound in Kansas, living apart from her mother with dozens of other children who worked in the sorghum fields and roved freely through the surrounding pastures, eating mulberries and tending to farm animals. But there was a dark side to this bucolic existence. Guinevere was part of the Lyman Family, a secluded cult spearheaded by Mel Lyman, a self-proclaimed savior, committed to isolation from a World he declared had lost its way. When Guinevere caught the attention of Jessie, the woman everyone in the Family called the Queen, her status was elevated—suddenly she was traveling with the inner circle among communities in Los Angeles, Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard.But before long, the life Guinevere had known ended. Her mother, from whom she had been separated since age three, left the Family with another disgraced member, and Guinevere and her four-year-old sister were forced to leave with them. Traveling outside the bounds of her cloistered existence, Guinevere was thrust into public school for the first time, a stranger in a strange land wearing homemade clothes, and clueless about social codes. Now out in the World she’d been raised to believe was evil, she faced challenges and horrors she couldn’t have imagined.
Stephen A. Smith has never been handed anything, nor was he an overnight success. Growing up poor in Queens, the son of Caribbean immigrants and the youngest of six children, he was a sports-obsessed kid who faced struggles, from undiagnosed dyslexia to getting enough cereal to fill his bowl. As a basketball player at Winston-Salem State University, he got a glimmer of his true calling when he wrote a newspaper column arguing for the retirement of his own Hall of Fame coach, Clarence Gaines.Smith hustled and rose up from a reporter on the high school beat at Daily News (New York) to a general sports columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer before getting his own show at ESPN in 2005. After he was unceremoniously fired from the network in 2009, he became even more determined to fight for success. He got himself rehired two years later and, with his razor-sharp intelligence and fearless debate style, found the show he was destined to star in: First Take, the network’s flagship morning program.In Straight Shooter, Smith writes about the greatest highs and deepest lows of his life and career. He gives his thoughts on Skip Bayless, Ray Rice, Colin Kaepernick, the New York Knicks, the Dallas Cowboys, and former President Donald Trump. But he also pulls back the curtain and talks about life beyond the set, sharing authentic stories about his negligent father, his loving mother, being a father himself, his battle with life-threatening COVID-19, and what he really thinks about politics and social issues. He does it all with the same intelligence, humor, and charm that has made him a household name.
In 1955, Emmett Till was lynched when he was fourteen years old. That remains an undisputed fact of the case that ignited a flame within the Civil Rights Movement that has yet to be extinguished. Yet the rest of the details surrounding the event remain distorted by time and too many tellings. What does justice mean in the resolution of a cold case spanning nearly seven decades? In A Few Days Full of Trouble, this question drives a new perspective on the story of Emmett Till, relayed by his cousin and best friend—the Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., a survivor of the night of terror when young Emmett was taken from his family’s rural Mississippi Delta home in the dead of night. In a hypnotic interplay between uncovered facts and vivid recall, Rev. Parker offers an emotional and suspenseful page-turner, set against a backdrop of reporting errors and manipulations, racial reckoning, and political pushback—and he does so accompanied by never-before-seen findings in the investigation, the soft resurrection of memory, and the battle-tested courage of faith.
It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow—and horror. As Princess Diana was laid to rest, billions wondered what Prince William and Prince Harry must be thinking and feeling—and how their lives would play out from that point on.For Harry, this is that story at last.Before losing his mother, twelve-year-old Prince Harry was known as the carefree one, the happy-go-lucky Spare to the more serious Heir. Grief changed everything. He struggled at school, struggled with anger, with loneliness—and, because he blamed the press for his mother’s death, he struggled to accept life in the spotlight.At twenty-one, he joined the British Army. The discipline gave him structure, and two combat tours made him a hero at home. But he soon felt more lost than ever, suffering from post-traumatic stress and prone to crippling panic attacks. Above all, he couldn’t find true love. Then he met Meghan. The world was swept away by the couple’s cinematic romance and rejoiced in their fairy-tale wedding. But from the beginning, Harry and Meghan were preyed upon by the press, subjected to waves of abuse, racism, and lies. Watching his wife suffer, their safety and mental health at risk, Harry saw no other way to prevent the tragedy of history repeating itself but to flee his mother country. Over the centuries, leaving the Royal Family was an act few had dared. The last to try, in fact, had been his mother. . .
After more than a decade of dead-end dates and dysfunctional relationships, Christie Tate has reclaimed her voice and settled down. Her days of agonizing in group therapy over guys who won’t commit are over, the grueling emotional work required to attach to another person tucked neatly into the past.Or so she thought. Weeks after giddily sharing stories of her new boyfriend at Saturday morning recovery meetings, Christie receives a gift from a friend. Meredith, twenty years older and always impeccably accessorized, gives Christie a box of holiday-themed scarves as well as a gentle suggestion: maybe now is the perfect time to examine why friendships give her trouble. “The work never ends, right?” she says with a wink.Christie isn’t so sure, but she soon realizes that the feeling of “apartness” that has plagued her since childhood isn’t magically going away now that she’s in a healthy romantic relationship. With Meredith by her side, she embarks on a brutally honest exploration of her friendships past and present, sorting through the ways that debilitating shame and jealousy have kept the lasting bonds she craves out of reach—and how she can overcome a history of letting go too soon. But when Meredith becomes ill and Christie’s baggage threatens to muddy their final days, she’s forced to face her deepest fears in honor of the woman who finally showed her how to be a friend.
As a retired brain surgeon, Henry Marsh thought he understood illness, but he was unprepared for the impact of his diagnosis of advanced cancer. And Finally explores what happens when someone who has spent a lifetime on the frontline of life and death finds himself contemplating what might be his own death sentence.As he navigates the bewildering transition from doctor to patient, he is haunted by past failures and projects yet to be completed, and frustrated by the inconveniences of illness and old age. But he is also more entranced than ever by the mysteries of science and the brain, the beauty of the natural world and his love for his family. Elegiac, candid, luminous and poignant, And Finally is ultimately not so much a book about death, but a book about life and what matters in the end.
This is it. No more California. I’m sifting into the underbelly of where the nomads go.
After a decade as an assistant to high-powered LA executives, Emily Pennington left behind her structured life and surrendered to the pull of the great outdoors. With a tight budget, meticulous routing, and a temperamental minivan she named Gizmo, Emily embarked on a yearlong road trip to sixty-two national parks, hell-bent on a single goal: getting through the adventure in one piece. She was instantly thrust into more chaos than she’d bargained for and found herself on an unpredictable journey rocked by a gutting romantic breakup, a burgeoning pandemic, wildfires, and other seismic challenges that threatened her safety, her sanity, and the trip itself.
What began as an intrepid obsession soon evolved into a life-changing experience. Navigating the tangle of life’s unexpected sucker punches, Feral invites readers along on Emily’s grand, blissful, and sometimes perilous journey, where solitude, resilience, self-reliance, and personal transformation run wild.
Laurel Braitman spent her childhood learning how to outfish grown men, keep bees, and fix carburetors from her larger-than-life dad. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he went to spectacular lengths to teach her the skills she’d need to survive without him. But by her mid-thirties she is a ship about to splinter on the rocks, exhausted by running from her own bad feelings. We follow as Laurel changes course, navigating multiple wildernesses—from northern New Mexico and western Alaska to her own Tinder app. She learns the hard way that no achievement, no matter how shiny, can protect her from pain, and works to transform guilt and regret into gold: learning from a badass birder in the Bering Sea, a few dozen grieving kids in a support group, a pile of smoking ashes, and countless online dates. Along the way, she faces a wildfire that threatens everyone and everything she cares about, a grueling test of her own survival skills, and the fact that we often have to say our hardest goodbyes before we’re ready. In the end Laurel realizes that being open to love after loss is not only possible, it can set us free.
Darrin Bell was six years old when his mother told him he couldn’t have a realistic water gun. She said she feared for his safety, that police tend to think of little Black boys as older and less innocent than they really are.Through evocative illustrations and sharp humor, Bell examines how The Talk shaped intimate and public moments from childhood to adulthood. While coming of age in Los Angeles―and finding a voice through cartooning―Bell becomes painfully aware of being regarded as dangerous by white teachers, neighbors, and police officers and thus of his mortality. Drawing attention to the brutal murders of African Americans and showcasing revealing insights and cartoons along the way, he brings us up to the moment of reckoning when people took to the streets protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And now Bell must decide whether he and his own six-year-old son are ready to have The Talk.
Leah Myers may be the last member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in her family line, due to her tribe’s strict blood quantum laws. In this unflinching and intimate memoir, Myers excavates the stories of four generations of women in order to leave a record of her family. Beginning with her great-grandmother, the last full-blooded Native member in their lineage, she connects each woman with her totem to construct her family’s totem pole: protective Bear, defiant Salmon, compassionate Hummingbird, and perched on top, Raven.
As she pieces together their stories, Myers weaves in tribal folktales, the history of the Native genocide, and Native mythology. Throughout, she tells the larger story of how, as she puts it, her “culture is being bleached out,” offering sharp vignettes of her own life between White and Native worlds: her naive childhood love for Pocahontas, her struggles with the Klallam language, the violence she faced at the hands of a close White friend as a teenager.
Aunt Gerald takes in anyone who asks, but the conditions are harsh. For her young niece Goldie Taylor, abandoned by her mother and coping with trauma of her own, life in Gerald’s East St. Louis comes with nothing but a threadbare blanket on the living room floor. But amid the pain and anguish, Goldie discovers a secret. She can find kinship among writers like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. She can find hope in a nurturing teacher who helps her find her voice. And books, she realizes, can save her life. Goldie Taylor's debut memoir shines a light on the strictures of race, class and gender in a post–Jim Crow America while offering a nuanced, empathetic portrait of a family in a pitched battle for its very soul.
Kendrick “Perk” Perkins is known for his blunt, opinionated, “carry the hell on” commentary on ESPN’s most popular shows. As a fourteen year NBA player and starting center for the 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics, Perk earned a reputation as an enforcer, a fierce defender, and a great teammate. Now, In The Education of Kendrick Perkins, he opens a different side of himself: a powerful and intimate memoir that goes beyond basketball to discuss the reality of being Black in America.Abandoned by his father, then orphaned after the murder of his mother, Perk was raised by his grandparents in a small Texas town. He left their home at age eighteen, drafted out of high school by the legendary Celtics. For a country boy, Boston was a completely new world, and the NBA a league of legends: Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, James Harden, Shaquille O’Neal, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Durant, and more. Perk had to learn how to play with and against these stars, while adjusting to life on the road as a professional athlete.But his education went beyond basketball. In this book, Perk reveals his awakening consciousness of larger issues that affected him, his fellow players, and Black Americans:-How many NBA players grow up in broken families and difficult circumstances-The history of slavery and how that trauma affects generations of Black life-The truths told by writers including James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, and others-The false myths about the Black family and fatherhood-Why George Floyd’s murder forced a reckoning about race in America
The newest book from V (formerly Eve Ensler), Reckoning invites you to travel the journey of a writer's and activist's life and process over forty years, representing both the core of ideas that have become global movements and the methods through which V survived abuse and self-hatred. Seamlessly moving from the internal to the external, the personal to the political, Reckoning is a moving and inspiring work of prose, poetry, dreams, letters, and essays drawn from V's lifelong journals that takes readers from Berlin to Oklahoma to the Congo, from climate disaster, homelessness, and activism to family.Unflinching, intimate, introspective, courageous, Reckoning explores ways to create an unstoppable force for change, to love and survive love, to hold people and states accountable, to reckon with demons and honor the dead, to reclaim the body, and to see oneself as connected to a greater purpose. It reimagines what seems fixed and intractable, providing a path to understand one's unique experience as deeply rooted in the world, to break through one's own boundaries, and to write oneself into freedom.
On paper, Sarah Levy’s life was on track. She was 28, living in New York City, working a great job, and socializing every weekend. But Sarah had a secret: her relationship with alcohol was becoming toxic. And only she could save herself.
Drinking Games explores the role alcohol has in our formative years, and what it means to opt out of a culture completely enmeshed in drinking. It’s an examination of what our short-term choices about alcohol do to our long-term selves and how they challenge our ability to be vulnerable enough to discover what we really want in life.Candid and dynamic, this book speaks to the all-consuming cycle of working hard, playing harder, and trying to look perfect while you’re at it. Sarah takes us by the hand through her personal journey with blackouts, dating, relationships, wellness culture, startups, social media, friendship, and self-discovery.In this intimate and darkly funny memoir, she stumbles through her twenties, explores the impact alcohol has on relationships and identity, and shows us how life’s messiest moments can end up being the most profound.
Stranded within an ever-shifting family’s desperate but volatile attempts to love, saddled with a mercurial mother mired in crack addiction, and demeaned daily for his perceived weakness, Joseph Earl Thomas grew up feeling he was under constant threat. Roaches fell from the ceiling, colonizing bowls of noodles and cereal boxes. Fists and palms pounded down at school and at home, leaving welts that ached long after they disappeared. An inescapable hunger gnawed at his frequently empty stomach, and requests for food were often met with indifference if not open hostility. Deemed too unlike the other boys to ever gain the acceptance he so desperately desired, he began to escape into fantasy and virtual worlds, wells of happiness in a childhood assailed on all sides.In a series of exacting and fierce vignettes, Thomas guides readers through the unceasing cruelty that defined his circumstances, laying bare the depths of his loneliness and illuminating the vital reprieve geek culture offered him. With remarkable tenderness and devastating clarity, he explores how lessons of toxic masculinity were drilled into his body and the way the cycle of violence permeated the very fabric of his environment. Even in the depths of isolation, there were unexpected moments of joy carved out, from summers where he was freed from the injurious structures of his surroundings to the first glimpses of kinship he caught on his journey to becoming a Pokémon master. SINK follows Thomas's coming-of-age towards an understanding of what it means to lose the desire to fit in—with his immediate peers, turbulent family, or the world—and how good it feels to build community, love, and salvation on your own terms.
Hey, Hun: Sales, Sisterhood, Supremacy, and the Other Lies Behind Multilevel Marketing is the eye-opening, funny, and dangerous personal story of author Emily Lynn Paulson rising to the top of the pyramid in the multilevel marketing (MLM) world, only to recognize that its culture and business practices went beyond a trendy marketing scheme and into the heart of white supremacy in America.
I was born in New York City on February 17, 1981, three days after Valentine’s Day.
From the time I was a toddler, my brain skipped and flickered with the chemical imbalance of ADHD. Sometimes it was too much.
I’m not bragging or complaining about it, just telling you: This is my brain. It has a lot to do with how this whole book thing is going to play out, because I love run-on sentences—and dashes. And sentence fragments. I’m probably going to jump around a lot while I tell the story.
I came of age during the most turbulent pop culture period ever.
The character I played—part Lucy, part Marilyn—was my steel-plated armor.
People loved her. Or they loved to hate her, which was just as marketable. I leaned into that character, my ticket to financial freedom and a safe place to hide. I made sure I never had a quiet moment to figure out who I was without her. I was afraid of that moment because I didn’t know what I’d find.
I wrote this book in an effort to understand my place in a watershed moment: the technology renaissance, the age of influencers. I also wrote this book so that the world could know who I am today. I focused on key aspects of my life that led to what I am most proud of--how my power was taken away from me and how I took it back, how I built a thriving business, a marriage and a family.
There are so many young women who need to hear this story. I don’t want them to learn from my mistakes; I want them to stop hating themselves for their own mistakes. I want them to laugh and cry and embrace every aspect of who they are with fearlessness and pride. We all have our own brand of intelligence, and, girl, fuck fitting in.
“Can I kiss you?” It was two months before the world premiere of Juno, and Elliot Page was in his first ever queer bar. The hot summer air hung heavy around him as he looked at her. And then it happened. In front of everyone. A previously unfathomable experience. Here he was on the precipice of discovering himself as a queer person, as a trans person. Getting closer to his desires, his dreams, himself, without the repression he’d carried for so long. But for Elliot, two steps forward had always come with one step back.With Juno’s massive success, Elliot became one of the world’s most beloved actors. His dreams were coming true, but the pressure to perform suffocated him. He was forced to play the part of the glossy young starlet, a role that made his skin crawl, on and off set. The career that had been an escape out of his reality and into a world of imagination was suddenly a nightmare.As he navigated criticism and abuse from some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, a past that snapped at his heels, and a society dead set on forcing him into a binary, Elliot often stayed silent, unsure of what to do, until enough was enough. Full of behind the scenes details and intimate interrogations on sex, love, trauma, and Hollywood, Pageboy is the story of a life pushed to the brink. But at its core, this beautifully written, winding journey of what it means to untangle ourselves from the expectations of others is an ode to stepping into who we truly are with defiance, strength, and joy.
When Clare Frank was 17 years old, she became a firefighter in Northern California. Clare was five foot two and officially too young to join the service—she left her birthdate blank on her paperwork, hoping no one would notice. And she didn’t look like her peers, who sported an Adam’s apple and a mustache. But her brother was a firefighter and loved it, so she thought she’d try it out, too. Very soon, she knew she had found her calling.
Burnt is Clare’s inspiring, richly detailed, and open-hearted account of an extraordinary life in fire. It chronicles the transformation of a young adult determined to prove her mettle into a scarred and sensitive veteran, grappling with the weight of her duties as chief of fire protection—one of the highest-ranking women in Cal Fire history—while record-setting fires engulf her home state. Mentors and managing, funerals and scandal, pickup basketball, car crashes, and always fire—no one has written about this world, from this perspective, like Clare Frank. She masterfully mixes irreverence and awe, taking readers inside station houses, on daily calls, and along on wildfire campaigns where antics and dark humor balance terrifying risk, trauma, and a sense of almost holy responsibility.
In his first book, broadcaster Ari Shapiro takes us around the globe to reveal the stories behind narratives that are sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking, but always poignant. He details his time traveling on Air Force One with President Obama, or following the path of Syrian refugees fleeing war, or learning from those fighting for social justice both at home and abroad.
As the self-reinforcing bubbles we live in become more impenetrable, Ari Shapiro keeps seeking ways to help people listen to one another; to find connection and commonality with those who may seem different; to remind us that, before religion, or nationality, or politics, we are all human.
“This is one of those stories that begins with a female body. Hers was crumpled, roadside, in the ash-colored slush between asphalt and snowbank.”So begins Erica Berry’s kaleidoscopic exploration of wolves, both real and symbolic. At the center of this lyrical inquiry is the legendary OR-7, who roams away from his familial pack in northeastern Oregon. While charting OR-7’s record-breaking journey out of the Wallowa Mountains, Erica simultaneously details her own coming-of-age as she moves away from home and wrestles with inherited beliefs about fear, danger, femininity, and the body.As Erica chronicles her own migration―from crying wolf as a child on her grandfather’s sheep farm to accidentally eating mandrake in Sicily―she searches for new expressions for how to be a brave woman, human, and animal in our warming world. What do stories so long told about wolves tell us about our relationship to fear? How can our society peel back the layers of what scares us? By strategically unspooling the strands of our cultural constructions of predator and prey, and what it means to navigate a world in which we can be both, Erica bridges the gap between human fear and grief through the lens of a wrongfully misunderstood species.
In this honest, layered and unforgettable book that alternates between storytelling and her own poetry, Pamela Anderson breaks the mold of the celebrity memoir while taking back the tale that has been crafted about her.
Her blond bombshell image was ubiquitous in the 1990s. Discovered in the stands of a football game, she was immediately rocket launched into fame, becoming Playboy’s favorite cover girl and an emblem of Hollywood glamour and sexuality. But what happens when you lose grip on your own life—and the image the notoriety machine creates for you is not who you really are?
Growing up on Vancouver Island, the daughter of young, wild, and unprepared parents, Pamela Anderson’s childhood was not easy, but it allowed her to create her own world—surrounded by nature and imaginary friends. When she overcame her deep shyness and grew into herself, she fell into a life on the cover of magazines, the beaches of Malibu, the sets of movies and talk shows, the arms of rockstars, the coveted scene at the Playboy Mansion. And as her star rose, she found herself tabloid fodder, at the height of an era when paparazzi tactics were bent on capturing a celebrity’s most intimate, and sometimes weakest moments. This is when Pamela Anderson lost control of her own narrative, hurt by the media and fearful of the public’s perception of who she was…and who she wasn’t.
Fighting back with a sense of grace, fueled by a love of art and literature, and driven by a devotion to her children and the causes she cares about most, Pamela Anderson has now gone back to the island where she grew up, after a memorable run starring as Roxie in Chicago on Broadway, reclaiming her free spirit but also standing firm as a strong, creative, confident woman.
When Jinger Duggar Vuolo was growing up, she was convinced that obeying the rules was the key to success and God's favor. She zealously promoted the Basic Life Principles of Bill Gothard,
Jinger, along with three of her sisters, wrote a New York Times bestseller about their religious convictions. She believed this level of commitment would guarantee God's blessing, even though in private she felt constant fear that she wasn't measuring up to the high standards demanded of her.
In Becoming Free Indeed, Jinger shares how in her early twenties, a new family member—a brother-in-law who didn't grow up in the same tight-knit conservative circle as Jinger—caused her to examine her beliefs. He was committed to the Bible, but he didn't believe many of the things Jinger had always assumed were true. His influence, along with the help of a pastor named Jeremy Vuolo, caused Jinger to see that her life was built on rules, not God's Word.
Jinger committed to studying the Bible—truly understanding it—for the first time. What resulted was an earth-shaking realization: much of what she'd always believed about God, obedience to His Word, and personal holiness wasn't in-line with what the Bible teaches.
Now with a renewed faith of personal conviction, Becoming Free Indeed shares what it was like living under the tenants of Bill Gothard, the Biblical truth that changed her perspective, and how she disentangled her faith with her belief in Jesus intact.