New at the Peter White Public Library: New Documentary | News, Sports, Jobs

The Peter White Public Library in Marquette is pictured. The library highlights children’s poetry and new non-fiction titles. (Newspaper archive photo)

“Center Center: A funny, sexy, sad almost memory of a boy in the ballet” by James Whiteside: I was pleasantly surprised by James Whiteside’s approach to writing about his dancing career. There is so much more to this book than ballet, which makes it more inclusive for people who don’t know much about the world of professional dance. Whiteside documents his tumultuous childhood, his highly imaginative mother Nancy, his gay childhood in East Coast towns, and how he found acceptance and the danger of going out. One of the main themes of the book is James’ identity as a gay man and his lived experiences. My favorite part is the essay on his free-spirited mother, Nancy, who encouraged her five children to live authentically, even though she herself struggled with her son’s sexuality. She was a complicated character in the essay – sometimes hard to love with her poor decision-making and struggles with addiction. However, it is evident how much love she had for all of her children and how much she fought for all of them. After reading, I adored Nancy and mourned her passing. These tries make you feel like you’re having a conversation with your best friend late into the night.

“Unbound: my liberation story and the birth of the Me Too movement” by Tarana Burke: At this point I think we’ve all heard of the #metoo hashtag that circulated the internet in 2019. The phrase “Me too” support for survivors of sexual assault has been around much longer than that. The document of the book is Tarana Burke’s autobiographical account of how she invented “Me too,” highlights her own experiences of sexual violence and how she chose to stand up for other black girls who have been through the same. Burke’s story is very difficult to read. Not because she’s a poor writer (far from it, I enjoyed her conversational tone throughout the book) but the pervasiveness of abuse and assault in the communities she served. Her story is incredibly motivating. She channels her pain and anger into organizing and advocating, and reading her experiences by doing “the work” will make other readers want to do the same. Unbound credits the creator with the phrase that has become so iconic of the current state of justice and gender relations. It’s so important to know more about the origins of the phrases that shape our world, and Tarana Burke does it very well.

“What Happened to Paula: On the Death of an American Girl” by Katherine Dykstra We’ve all heard one side of this story before. In the height of the ’70s, a pretty young woman from a boring Midwestern town appears dead in a culvert. Who put it there? Why? Katherine Dykstra became involved in Paula Oberbroeckling’s case when her stepmother recruited her to make a documentary on the case. The mother-in-law is from the same town as Paula (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and only missed her for a few years in school. The close closeness between Katherine and Paula comes from family ties to the area, a bond that only grows as Katherine learns more about Paula’s life, personality, and cultural norms of the time. The book covers a lot of ground regarding the passing of Roe v. Wade, because it is suspected that Paula died from a failed home abortion. Dysktra does a great job of contextualizing Paula’s life and circumstances at this time in American history. Race relations, the sexual revolution, society’s expectations of women’s bodies and lives all come together to paint a picture of why Paula was murdered. His death is still unresolved to this day, but as the author says, “If no one is to blame, then everyone is to blame. “ This is a very good book for fans of “The Third Rainbow Girl” by Emma Copley Eisenberg.

“Worship: the language of fanaticism” by Amanda Montell: It seems like cults are having another moment in the media spotlight. From podcasts to books to television, cults are something that has deep roots in American pop culture. Montell takes a general look at the use of language by cult leaders or cult groups to intrigue their members and keep them inside. Cultish is written with the flair of a trendy magazine article, making it a fun read despite the darkness of the subject. Amanda Montell casts a wide net over what and who she considers cult. Examples can go from Jonestown to Crossfit in the span of a few paragraphs (she doesn’t say all exercise clubs are cults, but the similarities between the diction used by the two are… striking). The book is a deep dive into what moves us and connects us in an increasingly lonely world. I enjoyed Montell’s testimony that he broke down in tears while taking a mantra-filled kickboxing class. The writing style is fresh and accessible without sacrificing its much sought after content. I think anyone interested in fringe topics like cults and mysticism would appreciate this book.

By Madeline Bitter

Reference department

Pierre Blanc

Public library

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