This is far more than an inspirational guidebook for single parents struggling to raise children in a difficult world. The Power of Presence (Grand Central, $26) is also a moving memoir. Joy Thomas Moore is the mother of Wes Moore, the author, commentator, and now president of the Robin Hood Foundation whose own story of transforming from a troubled African-American adolescent to Rhodes Scholar became a national bestseller. His mother, whom he credits for much of his success, turns out to have a life story equally compelling. Joy Moore’s book recounts how she found her way through ill-considered decisions, personal tragedy, financial hardship, family medical crises, and the pressures of raising three small children alone. A successful businesswoman today, the life lessons she shares are wise, never preachy, and full of candor and grace. Woven into her narrative are poignant stories of other women she has met along the way who exemplify strength, resilience, and her secret sauce of parental success, “the power of presence” in one’s children’s lives.
Bittersweet, empathic, and honest, Nicole Chung’s memoir, All You Can Ever Know (Catapult, $26), recounts her experiences as a Korean adoptee of white parents, follows her search for her birth parents, and charts her changing views of parenthood as she becomes a mother herself. Chung’s narrative unfolds her memories of facing racism growing up in a rural Oregon town, hushed attempts to excavate family secrets, and then the trials of new motherhood. She weaves in the perspective of her birth sister who grew up under vastly different circumstances, a narrative that ends in a complicated but heartfelt reunion between the two women. Chung’s lived experiences and poignant observations paint an intricate portrait of both Asian-American and transracial adoptee identity that challenges the prepackaged myths and assumptions held by society about both groups. All You Can Ever Know is moving and engaging from start to finish. The story is a relevant read for today, but also ends on a note of unabashed hope for tomorrow.
Raised on the wrong side of Dallas’s Trinity River, Casey Gerald achieved success with the odds stacked against him. His father abused drugs, his mother was often gone and then gone forever, yet Gerald still went on to play varsity football at Yale, earn an MBA from Harvard, and see for himself what the American dream truly is. However, what makes There Will Be No Miracles Here (Riverhead, $27) distinct is that Gerald rejects his own rags-to-riches story. He does not linger in his own achievements, and his humble and forthright storytelling breathes life into the flawed and saintly people of his past. Written with clarity, wit, and a tangible purpose, yes, this book does tell the story of the American dream. But what makes it both unique and worthwhile is that it tells that classic tale with an honesty that will make you rethink what it means to get to the top in America.