6 Booklist May 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
with the other girls. As friendships develop,
Pryor begins to realize that these teens have
life lessons to teach her about self-reliance
and determination. Pryor has vivid memories
of her time in the facility, and her straightforward, unvarnished narrative, written as if by
her 17-year-old self, rings true. Her story is
well worth sharing. —Candace Smith
YA: Pryor’s memoir of her teenage years
will resonate particularly strongly with YA
Love Unites Us: Winning the Freedom to
Marry in America.
Ed. by Kevin M. Cathcart and Leslie J.
June 2016. 368p. New Press, $27.95 (9781595585509).
It’s easy to think that the Supreme Court’s
decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) recognizing
same-sex marriage was fast in coming. And
while public opinion in support of lesbian and
gay men marrying has grown significantly since
2009, it actually took decades of work to achieve
the 2015 ruling. The excellent introduction by
this excellent collection’s editors sets freedom to
marry in the context of the larger LGBT rights
movement, explaining how AIDS, the struggles of committed couples across the country,
and the backlash to the Defense of Marriage
Act made marriage a priority. The volume contains essays—personal, immediate, and free of
jargon—by lawyers and activists who were at
the forefront of the battle, as well as remembrances, often quite moving, by the plaintiffs
themselves. Progress is always messy and rarely
linear (a time line would have been useful),
and while same-sex marriage is now legal,
the struggle for federal legislation prohibiting
discrimination based on sexual orientation,
gender identity, and expression continues. As
a core text about one of our society’s most significant developments, this volume belongs in
every library. —Brian Kenney
Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers
Who Fought the Landmark Case for
By Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell.
June 2016. 304p. Morrow, $27.99 (9780062456083).
Told with a novel’s narrative drive, this recounting of the landmark Supreme Court
case, Obergefell v. Hodges, which guaranteed
same-sex couples the right to marriage, is taut,
before the conservative Sixth Circuit Court
of Appeals and, finally, the Supreme Court.
Cenziper, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist,
along with Obergefell, digs deeply into the
personal stories of not just the many plaintiffs
but also family members, lawyers, and judges,
creating a remarkably rich portrait of America
on the cusp of recognizing same-sex marriage.
“Every civil rights case starts with a story,” the
authors write, and the central tale here is about
Al Gerhardstein, the heroic Cincinnati civil-rights lawyer who approached Obergefell and
Arthur to initiate the case, then shepherded it
all the way to Washington. This book would
make a great movie, and in the meantime, it is
an excellent choice for book groups looking for
exciting nonfiction. —Brian Kenney
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our
By Carol Anderson.
May 2016. 272p. Bloomsbury, $26 (9781632864123). 305.
The election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 represented for many the
transition of the U.S. into a post-racial nation.
In the aftermath of the 2015 Charleston shootings, continued episodes of police violence,
and repressive voter registration laws signifying the continuation of historical tendencies,
however, critical issues once thought closed
are now just as alive as ever. In this engaging,
thought-provoking work, Anderson (Eyes off
the Prize, 2003) argues that what is really at
work in America is a “white rage.” This rage is
characterized by an epistemic violence working
through the courts, legislature, and government
bureaucracies and triggered by black advancement. Anderson examines this larger trend,
from the close of the American Civil War to
the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education
and the civil rights movement to the current,
contentious debates. Anderson’s clear, ardent
prose detailing the undermining of America’s
stated ideals and democratic norms is required
reading for anyone interested in the state of
American social discourse. —Brian Odom
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the
By Dan Lyons.
2016. 272p. Hachette, $28 (9780316306089); e-book,
$14.99 (9780316306072). 650.
This is an East Coast spin on the start-up
explosion. Finding himself at the crossroads of
50 and unemployed in an “age-discriminating”
time, journalist and author Lyons took a
career detour to tech start-up HubSpot, an e-mail spam seller. It didn’t take long for him
to figure out that the Boston-based company
wasn’t exempt from the Silicon Valley start-up craziness, including unorthodox practices
like being forced to talk to a teddy bear and
take a multitude of IQ tests. Lyons mingled
with a cast of characters, including executives dubbed “Cranium” and “Wingman,”
along with much younger coworkers in a culture of company perks in what he likens to a
cult—all confirming tech-bubble stereotypes.
Although Lyons admits his job was little more
than banging out blog posts and recording
podcasts, his work takes a backseat to the
tales of strained interactions, the company’s
investments in harebrained ideas, and the
unscrupulous tactics of profit-driven manage-
ment. This slice-of-life narrative leaves us with
a unique insight into the tech boom and the
culture it creates. —Jennifer Adams
Being a Beast: Adventures across
the Species Divide.
By Charles Foster.
June 2016. 256p. Holt/Metropolitan, $28
“I want to know what it is like to be a wild
thing,” explains Foster (Tracking the Ark of the
Covenant, 2013), a British professor of medical law and ethics as well as
a veterinarian, at the start of
this fascinating exploration.
He describes the physiology and anatomy of five
red deer, urban red fox, otter, and swift—and tries
to understand their experiences by living their lives. His attempts to
actually be a beast make this a different sort
of wildlife book. Foster lived in a hole and ate
worms to approximate the life of a badger. As
an otter, he traveled alone between streams
and stayed in the water turning over stones
in search of food. Joining urban foxes meant
being crepuscular, sleeping next to freeways,
and rummaging through trash cans. Learning
what it was like to be a prey species as a red
deer meant being chased by staghounds. The
most difficult effort was to live the life of a
swift, as these birds spend the vast majority
of their lives airborne, so instead he followed
their migration. Ultimately, Foster found reciprocity in his unusual and daring immersion
in nature, feeling that he now knows the essence of animals’ lives and is somehow newly
known in return. —Nancy Bent
The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life,
Meaning, and the Universe Itself.
By Sean Carroll.
May 2016. 464p. Dutton, $28 (9780525954828). 539.
Theoretical physicist Carroll (The Particle at
the End of the Universe, 2012) thinks “we need
to do better at reconciling how we talk about
life’s meaning with what we know about the scientific image of our universe.” This book is his
attempt to do so, and it’s a successful one that’s
true to the grand scope of its title. Divided into
five sections of increasingly narrow focus, the
book starts way out to explore the philosophy
of science and ways of talking about our understanding of reality, which Carroll calls poetic
naturalism. From there, he investigates Bayes’
theorem of statistics, entropy, vacuum energy,
and much more before landing back on Earth
to ponder morality, ethics, and the improbability of theism. Though often highly technical,