4 Booklist July2017 www.booklistreader.com
HGTV personality Hatmaker here joins the
ranks of blogger-moms turned humor authors. Women who want the grit and wit of
Karen Alpert’s I Want My Epidural Back (2016)
without the colorful language and those who
enjoy Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog and books
will embrace this one. Hatmaker tackles issues
facing moms, especially those who are Christian, with fresh humor and perspective, giving
readers the luxury of accepting imperfection,
offering recipes, and starting each chapter with
pithy quotes that set the tone on topics ranging from Southern fanaticism over football to
the intense challenge of forgiveness. Readers
should not expect a stock conservative approach here. Hatmaker shares the importance
of reaching beyond comfort zones and extending welcomes. She owns the moxie she’s writing
about. —Joyce McIntosh
The Bettencourt Affair: The
World’s Richest Woman and the
Scandal That Rocked Paris.
By Tom Sancton.
Aug. 2017. 416p. Dutton, $28 (9781101984475). 338.7.
Veteran journalist Sancton chronicles the
thorny saga of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Betten-
court, her mind-boggling fortune (think stock
dividends averaging more than $1 million a
day), and a proportionately epic family em-
broilment. A daughter lacking affection from
a father she adored, Liliane
matured into a lonely, bored
wife and mother despite end-
less riches and responsibilities
at L’Oréal. Enter François-
Marie Banier, an exuberant,
nonconforming artist, who
offers vivacity and intrigue
in spades. Eventually, Liliane
will bestow gifts in excess of $1 billion on Ban-
ier while the relationship with her only child,
Françoise, hardens like the obdurate heart both
accuse the other of possessing. Convinced he’s
conning Liliane out of her own inheritance,
Françoise sues Banier, and high-court drama
ensues (not to mention Nazi collaboration,
political high jinks involving then-president
Nicolas Sarkozy, suicide, and Swiss bank ac-
counts). Although this tale seems destined for
HBO or Hollywood, to bill this a mere “family
drama” belies the staggering depth with which
Sancton portrays his subjects, whose motiva-
tions, desires, and downfalls are “so difficult
to judge according to a moral code based on
right and wrong, black and white, good and
evil.” A natural for book clubs, which will
drain a French cellar’s worth of wine while ap-
preciating Sancton’s meticulous research and
discussing this unbelievable cast of characters.
Confessions of a Recovering
Environmentalist and Other Essays.
By Paul Kingsnorth.
Aug. 2017. 296p. Graywolf, paper, $16
In the introduction to his first compilation
of essays, poet and novelist Kingsnorth admits
that during his late teens and twenties, joining
the British Road protest movement and serving
as a Greenpeace editor, he firmly believed grass
roots activism could turn the tide against ecological disaster. With the publication in 2009
of “Uncivilization,” coauthored with Dougald
Hine and included as this volume’s epilogue,
Kingsnorth signaled his break from the environmental movement, arguing that the inexorable
forces of civilization itself represent the gravest
dangers to our planet. Together, Kingsnorth
and Hine formed The Dark Mountain Project,
an artists and writers collective committed to
crafting a new narrative about civilization that
includes a more primal connection to nature
than the one sustainability organizations currently promote. Most of the pieces here came
out of this project, from the title essay describing
his disillusionment with green energy schemes
to “The Witness,” dissecting the evidence for a
looming mass extinction. A brilliant and sobering collection recommended for anyone, liberal
or conservative, concerned about the runaway
train of climate change. —Carl Hays
Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story
of Trial and Redemption.
By Benjamin Rachlin.
Aug. 2017. 400p. Little, Brown, $27 (9780316311496). 345.
In small-town Hickory, North Carolina,
1987, Willie Grimes heard that the police
were looking for him and went straight to
the station to clear up a certain misconcep-
tion. Instead, he was arrested on the spot; soon
tried and convicted, with a startling lack of
evidence, of raping a 67-year-old woman; and
sentenced to life imprisonment. For the next
25 years, Willie’s physical and mental health
deteriorate as he’s shuffled endlessly through
the system and denied parole because he won’t
accept responsibility for the crime he didn’t
commit. Interspersed with Willie’s absorbing
story, written with close access to case records
and Willie himself, Rachlin follows the long
road to the 2006 formation of the North Caro-
lina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state
entity uniquely devoted to reviewing claims
of innocence and exonerating the wrongfully
convicted, and the many people who made it
happen. In his moving first book, Rachlin, with
confidence and care, relays both the terrifying
personal costs and complex legalities, so depen-
dent on fallible humans, of wrongful conviction
and imprisonment. —Annie Bostrom
Mikey and Me: Life with My
By Teresa Sullivan.
Aug. 2017. 250p. She Writes, paper, $16.95
(9781631522703); e-book, $9.95 (9781631522710).
Growing up in Southern California in the
1950s and ’60s, Sullivan’s life was fairly ordinary, but her sister was “exceptional”: a
euphemism for what was then called “
brain-damaged.” Blinded in the NICU by too much
oxygen, then inexplicably halting development
at two years old, Teresa’s sister, Mikey, suffers profound
disabilities. But caring for
Mikey keeps Teresa busy in
a well-defined role, and gives
their parents’ struggling marriage a purpose. When Mikey
grows older and becomes
increasingly violent, though,
she is taken from their home by the courts,
and the family unravels. Teresa’s parents separate. Teresa’s grades begin to slip, and before too
long, she experiments with drugs. Advocating
for Mikey’s care, however, allows the family to
come back together. Sullivan’s candid, moving
memoir of how her life has been shaped by her
sister is emotional, easily readable, and instantly
relatable. This is a must-read for anyone who
cares for a person with autism or other developmental disabilities as well as a wonderful tale of
resiliency and tenacity that will touch the hearts
of a broad swath of readers. —Emily Brock
YA: Sullivan taps into her mind-set as
a goody-two-shoes child and wild young
adult, and teens, especially those who
have experience with disabilities, will
appreciate her graceful discussions of
difficult topics. EB.
Nomadland: Surviving America in
the Twenty-First Century.
By Jessica Bruder.
Sept. 2017. 320p. illus. Norton, $26.95
What photographer Jacob Riis did for the
tenement poor in How the Other Half Lives
Appearing below is a list of all the print reference titles reviewed in this issue. Reference
librarians should also remember that all Booklist reference reviews can be accessed by
Booklist subscribers on Booklist Online.
The Beatles Book, by Hunter Davies. p. 13.
The Complete Book of 2000s Broadway Musicals, by Dan Dietz. p. 13.
Modern Conflict in the Greater Middle East: A Country-by-Country Guide, by Spencer
C. Tucker. p. 13.
This Is Who We Were: In the 1900s. p. 13.