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.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+