Eye-opening reading for anyone interested in learning more about refugees and their plights.

I JUST WANTED TO SAVE MY FAMILY

A French legal expert’s account of how efforts to rescue his Syrian refugee in-laws turned into a protracted legal and political nightmare.

Pélissier married his wife, Zena, in 2012, just as the conflict in her native Syria began to intensify. In 2013, while visiting her parents, the newlyweds discovered that war had forced them to move from the outskirts of Damascus to an area they believed was safer. Over the next two years, the family endured the kidnapping and imprisonment of Zena's father, the rejection of their application for asylum in France, and a grueling journey involving smugglers that took them to Greece and almost cost them their lives. Desperation forced the family to contemplate using human traffickers again to get them into Italy. Unwilling to allow his in-laws to experience further trauma, Pélissier went to Greece in 2015 to take them back to France with him, knowing that French law would allow him to do so without punishment. Greek officials arrested the author and forced him to return home while his in-laws were forced to again use smugglers to help them get to France. In the years that followed, Pélissier and his wife battled to keep her family in their town only to be told everyone—including Zena’s now-ill father—would be deported. In 2016, another town offered the family refugee status, but a year later, Pélissier became embroiled in a long, costly legal battle with the Greek government, which accused him of being a "human trafficker.” Both sobering and informative, this story of human suffering—which is told in both Pélissier’s voice and the voices of some of his relatives—calls necessary attention to the brokenness of democratic legal systems and their terrifying inability to effectively handle ongoing humanitarian emergencies like the Syrian refugee crisis.

Eye-opening reading for anyone interested in learning more about refugees and their plights.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63542-018-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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