Social Justice & Survival: Memoir Previews, Sept. 2021, Pt. 4 |Prepub Alert

Memoirs that address key issues.

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Adams, Jarrett. Redeeming Justice: From Defendant to Defender, My Fight for Equity on Both Sides of a Broken System. Convergent: Crown. Sept. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780593137819. $27. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Convicted by an all-white jury at age 17 of a crime he didn’t commit and finallycover of Adams's Redeeming Justice exonerated with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project after multiple appeals and 10 years in prison, Adams subsequently earned a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He argued his first case with the Innocence Project, standing before the same court that had convicted him years previously.

Anthony, Carmelo. Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised. Gallery: S. & S. Sept. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781982160593. $28. BIOGRAPHY/SPORTS

Anthony grew up in the housing projects of Red Hook, NY, and Baltimore, staring down poverty, racism, mental illness, addiction, and murder to become a 10-time NBA All-Star and the only male basketball player to win three Olympic gold medals. Here he shares the courage it took and the family and community support that made it happen. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

Bowler, Kate. No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need To Hear). Random. Sept. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780593230770. $27. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

An assistant professor at Duke Divinity School, Bowler chronicled her diagnosis with stage IV colon cancer in the New York Times best-selling Everything Happens for a Reason. Here she describes her good response to immunotherapy and her struggle to determine what her future might hold—so different from what she sees as the American-forged belief that the possibilities are endless.

Branigan, Cynthia. The Last Diving Horse in America: Rescuing Gamal and Other Animals—Lessons in Living and Loving. Pantheon. Sept. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781101871959. $30. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

In a spectacular and spectacularly cruel attraction at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier, horses were forced to jump 40 feet into a 10-foot-deep tank. When it was finally shuttered by animal rights activists in the 1970s, Branigan acted on a mission from animal rights activist Cleveland Amory to rescue the last horse, Gamal, an experience that led her to save other animals, from burros to greyhounds.

Leng’ete, Nice. The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree: How I Fought To Save Myself, My Sister, and Thousands of Girls Worldwide. Little, Brown. Sept. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780316463355. $28. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Growing up in a Maasai village, Leng’ete resisted the painful and sometimes lethal ritual of female genital mutilation, after which girls were forced to leave school and marry. She and sister Soila once hid in a fig tree to avoid what is frequently called the cut, and though Soila relented to save her younger sister, Leng’ete avoided the practice and became the first person in her family to attend college. She went on to become a leading Kenyan human rights activist who has saved some 15,000 girls from the cut and forced marriage.

Lynch, Evanna. Untitled. Ballantine. Sept. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780593358412. pap. $17. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

After playing her beloved Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies, Lynch ended up playing something different: she is a role model for those with eating disorders. Here she details traversing anorexia as a child and her current struggle to reconcile her potentially undermining will to perfection with a newfound urge to creativity as she seeks to relate to her body as an adult woman.

Mouallem, Omar. Praying to the West: How Islam Shaped the Americas. S. & S. Sept. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781501199141. $27. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Though he has reported on Muslim and Middle Eastern issues for venues like the Guardian, award-winning writer/filmmaker Mouallem questioned Islam’s role in his life as a child and resisted organized religion as an adult. Becoming a father at time when Muslims in America faced growing hostility, he sought to embrace his Muslim identity, traveling to 13 distinctive mosques in the Americas, an act of discovery for himself and his family that also revealed the influence of Islam in the region. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Paul, Chris & Michael Wilbon. Sixty-One: Life Lessons from Papa, On and Off the Court. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781250276711. $29.99. CD. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

A 10-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic Gold medalist, Paul had just signed to play college basketball for Wake Forest when he learned that his beloved grandfather—Nathaniel "Papa" Jones, who was at the heart of their Winston-Salem community—had died of a heart attack after a mugging. Here he reflects on how his grandfather made him the sports leader and father he is today. With a 250,000-copy first printing.

Sayman, Michael. App Kid: How a Child of Immigrants Grabbed a Piece of the American Dream. Knopf. Sept. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780525656197. $27. BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

As his parents’ restaurant business collapsed during the Great Recession, 13-year-old Sayman was busy learning how to code and a year later created an iPhone app that soon brought in enough money to help support his family. He joined Facebook straight out of high school, creating features today used by billions, then split for Google and beyond. Now he’s an inspiration to thousands of youngsters and author of this open-hearted memoir.

Smith, Shirley. Mama Bear: One Black Mother’s Fight for Her Child’s Life and Her Own. Harper. Sept. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780063010789. $27.99. MEMOIR

Wife of NBA All-Star J.R. Smith, the author had been pregnant for only 21 weeks when she gave birth to one of the youngest premature babies ever to survive. Here she chronicles a long and heart-rending ordeal—she entered the hospital on New Year’s Day and took her baby home in May—while also seeking to raise awareness of the crisis of Black maternal and infant health. Owing to health-care disparities, twice as many Black mothers as white mothers go into labor prematurely and lose their babies, and they are almost four times as likely to die giving birth. With a 35,000-copy first printing.

Turner, Dawn. Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Story of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood. S. & S. Sept. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781982107703. $26. MEMOIR

Growing up in the Bronzeville section of Chicago’s South Side, Turner was the most academically inclined of three close Black girlfriends; sister Kim was uncompromisingly tough-minded, while Kim’s friend Debra was the beauty among them. Third-generation children of the Great Migration, they focused on having fun in the present and anticipating great futures but then moved in different directions. Tragedy followed. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Wang, Qian Julie. Beautiful Country: A Memoir. Doubleday. Sept. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780385547215. $28.95. MEMOIR

Wang relates arriving as a seven-year-old in America—Mei Guo in Mandarin, which means “beautiful country”—and living the hard life of a poor and undocumented child in glittering New York. Once professionals, her parents worked in factories and fought constantly, while Wang taught herself English through library books. The aim was to stay safely invisible, but no more. From Brooklyn-based Yale Law School graduate Wang.

Zaleski, Laurie. Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781250272836. $27.99. MEMOIR

Zaleski’s mother, Annie, always wanted to run an animal rescue, so successful businesswoman Zaleski finally bought a 15-acre farm for her New Jersey’s Pinelands. She was planning to relocate both Annie and a bunch of horses and goats, dogs and cats, chickens and pigs to the property when Annie died unexpectedly. Despite her grief, Zaleski made sure that the Funny Farm Animal Rescue outside Mays Landing, NJ, not just survived but thrived. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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