Love, Friendship, Family & Historical Reckonings: Memoir Previews, Feb. 2023, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

Fourteen memoirs revisiting lives intensely lived. 

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Andrews, Bryce. Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West. Mariner: HarperCollins. Feb. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780358468271. $27.99. CD. MEMOIR

A Montana rancher and conservationist whose Down from the Mountain was an Amazon Best Science Title of 2019, Andrews grew up with pacifist parents in Seattle and felt a weighty history of violence as he held the Smith & Wesson revolver he inherited from his grandfather. Here, as he decides to lay down his arms, he reflects on that history, particularly in the U.S. West, and considers the rise in U.S. gun violence today. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Felix, Camonghne. Dyscalculia: A Love Story of Epic Miscalculation. One World: Ballantine. Feb. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9780593242179. $27. MEMOIR

After a breakup so thornily horrendous that she ended up in the hospital, poet/essayist Felix uses her childhood dyscalculia—a disorder that makes math hard to learn—as a means of understanding her missteps in love and in life. Felix’s Build Yourself a Boat was long-listed for the National Book Award and short-listed for Lambda and PEN/Open Book award honors.

Frank, Tanya. Zig-Zag Boy: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood. Norton. Feb. 2023. 224p. ISBN 9780393531886. $28.95. MEMOIR

In 2009, Frank’s sweet 19-year-old son, Zach, had what was finally diagnosed as a psychotic break, claiming that his friends had joined the Mafia and that helicopters were spying on the family. Here, Frank recounts her efforts to help Zach, bravely negotiating dysfunctional mental health-care systems in California and then her native London during lockdown.

Hoja, Gulchehra. A Stone Is Most Precious Where It Belongs: A Memoir of Uyghur Exile, Hope, and Survival. Hachette. Feb. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780306828843. $29. MEMOIR

Raised in a prominent Uyghur family in East Turkistan (officially, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China), Hoja early revealed a talent for acting and dancing that presaged a career with China’s state TV. But she came to recognize the damage done by Chinese rule to Uyghur culture and fled to the United States. As a result, 24 members of her family vanished overnight, a story she unfolded in award-winning investigations for Radio Free Asia and in more detail here. With a 25,000-copy first printing.

Iduma, Emmanuel. I Am Still with You: A Reckoning with Silence, Inheritance, and History. Algonquin. Feb. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781643751016. $27. MEMOIR

Both a writer (the novel Farad and the travelogue A Stranger’s Pose) and an art critic (he co-curated the first ever Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale), Iduma returned to Nigeria after years in New York because of a family wedding and his father’s death. His ulterior motive: to find out what happened to his uncle Emmanuel, who vanished during the Nigerian civil war in the late 1960s, and to understand how that war shaped his family and himself.

Jackson, Bruce. Never Far from Home: My Journey from Brooklyn to Hip Hop, Microsoft, and the Law. Atria. Feb. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781982191153. $28. MEMOIR

Raised in Manhattan’s Amsterdam housing projects, falsely accused of robbery at age 10, witness to a close friend’s murder at age 15, and drawn into the drug trade, Jackson was then made an offer that set him on a path leading to Georgetown Law. Now he’s Microsoft’s associate general counsel, having also spent three decades working with some of the top music producers in the United States.

Masters, Oksana with Cassidy Randall. The Hard Parts: From Chernobyl to Paralympic Champion—My Story of Achieving the Extraordinary. Scribner. Feb. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781982185503. $28. MEMOIR

When Masters was born, she had one kidney, a partial stomach, six toes on each foot, webbed fingers, no right bicep, no thumbs, and no tibias—terrible challenges resulting from having been conceived near Chernobyl. Surrendered to an orphanage, she was adopted by U.S. professor Guy Masters after a two-year battle and is now a ten-time Paralympic medalist. Originally scheduled for July 2022; with a 60,000-copy first printing.

Nahvi, Farzon A. Code Gray: Death, Life, and Uncertainty in the ER. S. & S. Feb. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781982160296. $27.99. CD. MEMOIR

An emergency room physician at Concord Hospital in New Hampshire, having previously worked in New York City (e.g., Mount Sinai Health System, Bellevue Hospital), Nahvi chronicles a single day in an urban ER. Centered on a healthy patient in her forties inexplicably in cardiac arrest, the narrative moves from intake to dealing with patients’ families to highlight the ethical questions faced daily by doctors in his position. Originally scheduled for July 2022.

Perkins, Kendrick with Seth Rogoff. The Education of Kendrick Perkins. St. Martin’s. Feb. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781250280343. $28.99. MEMOIR

Perkins recounts the big strides he took from small-town Texas to the NBA, where he played for 14 years and helped the Celtics win their first NBA championship since the Larry Bird era before moving on to a position as ESPN commentator. In addition, he offers his forthright opinions on racial justice, political consciousness, and fatherhood. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Rivera Garza, Cristina. Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice. Hogarth: Crown. Feb. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780593244098. $28. MEMOIR

In 1990 Mexico, Rivera Garza’s sister was murdered by a former boyfriend and the crime brushed aside by a criminal justice system indifferent to domestic violence. Here, the MacArthur-graced novelist/poet peers deeply at her own long-standing grief while reigniting the brief, beautiful flame of Liliana’s life, which she reconstructs through key artifacts like letters, school notebooks, and police reports she collected on a trip to Mexico after decades in the United States.

Rock, Bretman. You're That Bitch. Harper. Feb. 2023. 208p. ISBN 9780358694106. $26.99. CD. MEMOIR

A Filipino American beauty influencer and social media phenomenon based in Hawaii, Bretman “The Baddest” Rock compiles essays, advice, drawings, recipes, and never-before-seen photos to reflect on his childhood, family, and Filipino culture and what being a first-generation immigrant has meant for him. Along the way, he emphasizes the importance of loving oneself and one’s community. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Schwalbe, Will. We Should Not Be Friends: The Story of a Friendship. Knopf. Feb. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780525654933. $29. MEMOIR

In college at Yale, Schwalbe gravitated to the literary/theatrical crowd, so his friendship with boisterous star wrestler Chris Maxey, facilitated by membership in one of the school’s secret societies, was an anomaly. Schwalbe, author of the Entertainment Weekly and BookPage best-booked The End of Your Life Book Club, tracks their friendship over four decades.

Tate, Christie. B.F.F.: A Memoir of Friendship Lost and Found. Avid Reader: S. & S. Feb. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781668009420. $28. MEMOIR

Tate was happy, having found a wonderful boyfriend and pulled her life together via group therapy, as recounted in the New York Times best-selling Group, also a Reese’s Book Club pick. Then an older woman friend suggested that it was time she examine why she had so much trouble with friendships. The result was a journey through past mistakes and Tate’s sense of apartness since childhood.

Thomas, Joseph Earl. Sink: A Memoir. Grand Central. Feb. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781538706176. $28. MEMOIR

Growing up in a roach-ridden home with a mother on crack, hungry, battered, and tauntingly told that he was a weakling, Thomas found respite in fantasy and virtual worlds and eventually became a Pokémon master. Currently, he’s a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania, and an excerpt of this memoir won the 2020 Chautauqua Janus Prize.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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