Dedicated Passages

This fall, CSQ reviews a trio of books whose subject and focus is—either directly or indirectly—a family member. Whether finding wonder in a New York City bar, grieving loss in Silicon Valley, or saying “Goodnight, Moon,” each of these manuscripts allows the reader to experience a gamut of emotions.

Two and Two:

McSorley’s, My Dad, and Me
Rafe Bartholomew
Little Brown & Company
288 pages

PLOT The author tells the story while placing himself in a historically famous, renowned bar in New York City—McSorley’s. As readers, you continue to feel Bartholomew’s struggles, growth, and transformation as he shares stories of practically growing up in the bar, alongside his father.

MEAT Growing up, Bartholomew saw McSorley’s as an exciting place full of whimsical wonder—where he also was able to spend time with his father. The book, at its best, gives you plenty to chew on, when Bartholomew shares hilarious, crude, and sometimes heartfelt anecdotes experienced by the author and those around him while at McSorley’s.

TWIST The undertone of suffering throughout the book is brought to the surface when Bartholomew describes his mother’s quick and unexpected demise. The narrative shifts from light-hearted storytelling to an intense and emotional time in the author’s life that will stay with readers.

Option B:

Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
242 pages

PLOT The follow up to the Facebook COO’s smash hit Lean In is a much more pointed and visceral book. After having her husband pass away unexpectedly, Sheryl Sandberg felt empty and alone. Through writing this book,
Option B,  she slowly discovers how to recover from untimely tragedy and learns that resilience is a muscle we should all strengthen.

MEAT The meat of Sandberg’s book comes from the stories of suffering, trials, and adversity told by ordinary people. They found an undiscovered strength inside of themselves. Their stories capture humanity’s innate ability to persevere.

TWIST The twist comes from the heartbreaking detail and heroism of the author. Sandberg had to ignore the outside world hounding her, hold her family together, and deal with her loss.

In the Great Green Room:

The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown
Amy Gary
Flatiron Books
305 pages

PLOT This is the story of Margaret Wise Brown, the author of the seminal childhood bedtime story, Goodnight Moon. Wise Brown—as one could imagine—lived a life full of creativity that she shared in letters, journal entries, and songs, always painting boys and girls as equals, ultimately transforming the lives of children.

MEAT Amy Gary, the former director of publishing at Lucasfilm and the head of the publishing department at Pixar Animation, discovered unpublished manuscripts and songs from Margaret Wise Brown in 1990. Since then, Gray has extensively catalogued, edited, and researched Wise Brown’s writings and life.

TWIST Though she was seen as merely the author of children’s books, Wise Brown lived an extravagant life. She threw many raucous parties, loved to hunt, fell in love several times, and also found time to have numerous affairs. Gary paints the Wise Brown canvas colorfully throughout.