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Kathy McCoy
The Crocodiles Will Arrive Later
Kathy McCoy, author
Growing up in mid-century suburban Los Angeles, Kathy's great fear was that she would end up as a San Fernando Valley housewife. Her second greatest fear was nuclear annihilation. And there was another fear that grew over the years: that her mentally ill, alcoholic father would kill her. This memoir by award-winning journalist-author-psychotherapist Kathy McCoy explores the impact of living with mentally ill, abusive, intermittently loving parents and the people who intervened -- including nuns, celebrities and a special aunt -- to change her life.
McCoy (We Don’t Talk Anymore) draws on her experience as a journalist and psychotherapist in this arresting memoir. She frankly faces her suburban childhood with an abusive father and the systemic ways in which generations of women in her life have been thwarted from achievement, and her story is powered by her determination to realize her full potential. McCoy’s opening lines irresistibly establish the stakes: “When I was five years old, at the dawn of the Fifties, my greatest fear was that I would grow up to be a San Fernando Valley housewife. My second greatest fear was nuclear annihilation.”

Painful yet witty, McCoy’s story lives up to its start, as she recounts being inspired as a child by women who dared to embrace life despite a patriarchal society’s cruelty, including her aunt Molly (a poet of model openness at odds with McCoy’s father, who abhorred sentiment) and an empathetic nun whose encouragement nudged McCoy toward a life of public expression. McCoy eschews any hints in early chapters of where her story is going, so readers will be surprised at her life’s direction: despite polio, a fungal lung disease, and a family disinclined to pay for out-of-state college, she studied journalism at Northwestern University and became a leading writer for teen publications at the dawn of the sexual revolution.

McCoy adeptly plucks readers’ heartstrings (“I marveled at how they lived so fully, even with their terrible sadness”) and, like that of any seasoned magazine pro, her sharp, polished prose abounds with candid reflections. McCoy’s recollections, both humorous and shocking, will reverberate for readers of all backgrounds.

Takeaway: This vital memoir of thriving in magazines after a difficult childhood will resonate with readers.

Great for fans of: Elaine Welteroth’s More Than Enough; Lizzie Skurnick’s Pretty Bitches.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B+