Chanel Bonfire

by Wendy Lawless |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite 



REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

MEMOIR

Bad childhoods can be bad in any number of ways, but what they all have in common is uncertainty. If the question "What will happen next?" is the one you're asking every day when you're 9, you're pretty much guaranteed a fraught adulthood. And so it was with Wendy Lawless and her sister. Would Georgann Rea, their beautiful, gimlet-downing, social-climbing mother, be taking them to Schraft's today-or locking them in the closet? Where would they be living when they came home from school? Who would be in Mother's bed? When she wanted to skip town, Rea's idea of making it easier on the kids was to tell them their father had a new family and never loved them anyway. Her girls ruined her life, they were her competition, and they were also all she had. Lawless, an actress and essayist, leavens her harrowing story with biting humor and never descends into self-pity-but boy, do we feel for her and her sister anyway. Move over, Joan Crawford: This Mommie Dearest just might have you beat.

News from Heaven

by Jennifer Haigh |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

STORIES

At the heart of these elegant stories is Bakerton, the depressed coal town Haigh created in her novel Baker Towers. Like its real-life counterparts, Bakerton has a fading Main Street, teens chafing to break away and families grappling with an uncertain future. The sign at a service station says "TOUGH TIMES NEVER LAST. TOUGH PEOPLE DO." The themes are familiar, but Haigh uses well-timed plot twists to infuse them with bright new energy.

Backyard Parables

by Margaret Roach

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

MEMOIR

In And I Shall Have Some Peace There, Roach chronicled her flight from Manhattan to a country home. Here, she mines her simpler life for tips both practical and philosophical, yielding a delightful hybrid: half memoir, half gardening guide. "A garden's edges soften over time," Roach writes. "My edges have softened, too-not just at the midsection ... but more than that emotionally." Even city folk will relate.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com

BONNIE RAITT

A Freewheelin' Time

by Suze Rotolo

"Rotolo was Bob Dylan's girlfriend, and her book is a memoir of that time in the '60s. I love seeing behind the scenes."

ANNASOPHIA ROBB

East of Eden

by John Steinbeck

"I've started The Perks of Being a Wildflower and I'm reading East of Eden, slowly. I love John Steinbeck."

MACY GRAY

Room Full of Mirrors

by Charles R. Cross

"It's a biography of Jimi Hendrix. People don't know his energy. What he did before he died at 27 was insane."

Marijuana, meditation, moonlighting as a jingle writer: The king of soft rock, 59, opens up about his vices and virtues in a new memoir, The Soul of It All.

THE HAD A "COOL MOM"

Bolton's mother turned a blind eye to his teen pot-smoking: "She didn't encourage [it], but she felt we were doing what was typical for the times."

HE FOUND HIS VOICE (AND HIS MOJO) SINGING IN A BAR IN HIS YOUTH

"I looked out through the haze of smoke and ... I could see the girls and women moving with the music. Whoa!"

HE USED TO VISIT AN ASHRAM

He found spiritual awakening through a guru and TM. "It felt like the key to everything.... I still meditate to quiet my mind."

HE WAS A SUCCESSFUL JINGLE SINGER

"One day I opened a drink cooler and it hit me that I'd sung a jingle for every form of liquid refreshment in the entire selection."

HE'S STILL FRIENDLY WITH HIS EX

After dating on and off for years, he and Nicollette Sheridan broke up in '08, but "there will always be respect and love between us."

-KEVIN O'DONNELL

TEN YEARS LATER

by Hoda Kotb

What happens over time to people who've survived adversity? Kathie Lee Gifford's costar takes a look at six changed lives.

NEVER GOIN' BACK

by Al Roker

How Today's weatherman, who had gastric bypass in '02, keeps winning the battle of the bulge (that one little accident at the White House notwithstanding).