Recollections of an artist and child of an icon

Rosanne Carter’s Composed is a multi-layered book. She is an accomplished artist in her own right with 21 top 40 country singles, 14 albums, 10 Grammy nominations, and two gold records. But, it is clear she can never escape being Johnny Cash’s daughter. 

 
The book is an eloquent attempt to explain her own hard-won identity. She writes about the pain of her parents’s divorce. She is fair and generous to the memory of June Carter, who by all accounts was loving and generous.
 
Mostly she explains her journey as an artist struggling to express herself. She writes in detail about making music. She is knowledgeable. She shares her personal life too, as a woman and mother.
 
In spite of the bold-type names that people her tale, her story is honest and relatable to anyone who has struggled to find her own voice.  
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My dysfunctional Mafia family

Never Tell Our Business to Strangers by Jennifer Mascia is not a comfortable read, but it is compelling. Mascia — an assistant on the Metro desk at The New York Times and a graduate of The Columbia School of Journalism – thoroughly dissects her rather ugly life story. In many ways, she is a remarkable young woman just for having survived her life. 

 
Jennifer Mascia is the daughter of a dysfunctional low-level crime family. Her father went to prison for murder during her childhood. Her family called it being away at “college”. Jessica, who was very young, knew he was in jail, but never realized the implications. Later her father started a carpet-cleaning business as a cover for his drug dealing. Mascia later discovered her favourite aunt was his supplier.
 
As her family goes from middle class to wealthy to food stamps, Jennifer grows up and begins to figure out her family is not “normal”. 
 
Mascia struggles to reconcile her memories of a loving father with the facts of her father’s past. She struggles to make sense of her emotional, high-living mother who condoned her father’s life while raising her daughter to be an academic achiever and “nice Jewish-Italian” girl.
 
This is more than just another coming of age biography or Mafia princess tale. It is study of a young woman who grows up surrounded by psychopaths, drug addicts, and criminals, and yet manages to survive. She struggles to find her own identity and retain a sense of compassion and self-worth.
 
 
 
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All about Evelyn

Some people have called Evelyn Nesbit the first “it” girl. Others have referred to her — as the tabloids of her day did — as “the girl on the red velvet swing”. Evelyn Nesbitt was a young woman who lived by her beauty and was ultimately destroyed by it. She became a successful commercial model by time was 14. She was the toast of New York’s’ jaded millionaire set at 16, as a performer in the popular Flora Dora review. She was exploited by her widowed and clinging mother who allowed her to be deflowered by the famed voluptuary Stanford White. Later she was pursued and tortured into marrying the mad millionaire Harry Thaw. Thaw had been obsessed not only with Evelyn but also with Stanford White, whom he murdered. Evelyn was sacrificed to his defense and mercilessly condemned in the press as gold-digger. Alas, she and her son scraped by for years on little money. She finally received $10,000 from Thaw’s estate when he died. He left the same amount to a waitress he hardly knew.
 
Joan Collins played the Girl on the Red Velvet SwingAmerican Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White; The Birth of the “It” Girl
and the Crime of the Century, Paula Uruburu tells the tale of a young girl trapped in gentile slavery. Her widowed mother made one bad decision after another, reducing the family to near starvation. Uruburu’s book captures the mystery and pathos of a young girl who never had a childhood, but was from her earliest teenage years an object of desire for others. This is a fascinating, heartbreaking, and remarkably relevant read. It’s the perfect literary candy for a long plane ride or beach getaway!
 
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