Monday, 27 February 2017
 
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Each issue of Cornell Alumni Magazine covers books written by Cornell faculty, staff, and alumni. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to review all the books we receive; see more books on our “Cornell Authors” page online.

ImageBecoming Who I Am
Ritch Savin-Williams

In a series of interviews with young men and boys, Savin-Williams expands on the concept of the modern gay identity that he addressed in his previous book, The New Gay Teenager. A developmental psychology professor and director of Cornell's Sex & Gender Lab, Savin-Williams delves into such topics as first sexual encounters, coming out to friends and family, and forming romantic relationships. "As these youths were quick to tell me, today's gay teen is not particularly fond of the public image of 'gay youth,' " writes Savin-Williams. "The stories in these pages provide a glimpse into the ordinary lives of gay teens, who seek the same things straight boys do."

ImageAll Joe Knight
Kevin Morris '85

Morris, a prominent entertainment lawyer whose clients include the creators of "South Park," co-produced the Tony-winning musical The Book of Mormon; he previously penned the short story collection White Man's Problems, which Kirkus praised as "mordantly funny." In his debut novel, he crafts a protagonist who was orphaned at six months of age, only feeling a sense of belonging when he joined his high school basketball team. Years later, he makes millions selling the firm he built from the ground up, and cuts his former teammates in on the deal. But the sale comes under investigation by the federal government—forcing Joe to cope with his inner demons, his relationships, and a secret that he's been keeping for decades. Says Publisher's Weekly: "Morris's novel deftly shows that the frustrations of a stunted middle-aged man are evocative terrain."

ImageWar Torn
Kenneth Miller '85

As a filmmaker, writer, advisor to international NGOs, and professor of clinical and community psychology, Miller has worked with war-affected communities for decades. His latest book (subtitled Stories of Courage, Love, and Resilience) describes the lives of civilians who have survived wars and armed conflicts around the world. Each chapter is devoted to a country—including Guatemala, Mexico, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sri Lanka—in which Miller has worked. As Cornell psychology professor emeritus James Garbarino, PhD '73, writes in the foreword: "Resilience is not a simple 'trait' that you either have or don't have. No one has absolute resilience; each of us has a breaking point."

ImageCommitted
Dinah Miller, MD '88

In what the Washington Post called "a highly informative and surprisingly balanced book," Miller, a psychiatry instructor at Johns Hopkins, examines the controversy over involuntary psychiatric care in the U.S. Through interviews with doctors, patients, lawyers, and others—and discussions of public tragedies like the mass shootings in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut—she and her co-author explore how the current system attempts to balance individual civil rights with concerns over public safety. They offer suggestions for policy reform, arguing that involuntary care should be considered a last resort. "The converging forces of fear-based legislation and financially driven healthcare systems," they write, "have taken American mental healthcare to a dangerous point."

ImageOur Food
Ranida McKneally '96

What makes popcorn pop? Why are fruits so colorful? Those questions and many others are answered in this large-format children's book about nutrition. McKneally, a science writer, teamed up with another author and an artist, who created brightly hued illustrations of farm scenes; the book also contains easily understandable scientific information as well as haiku poetry. ("Rabbits are welcome / In the vegetable garden / There's lettuce for all!") Kirkus lauded the book for its "playful prose and palatable poetry," adding that it "provides a useful, kid-friendly introduction to nutrition."

ImageClass
Lucinda Rosenfeld '91

The author of such novels as I'm So Happy for You and The Pretty One offers this culturally charged tale of a middle-class mother named Karen who lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn. Devoted to her career in nonprofits that aid disadvantaged youth, Karen enrolls her daughter in a racially diverse public school—motivated more by a desire to stay in line with her own ideals than by her child's academic needs. But Karen soon begins to spiral downward: she has an extramarital affair, lies about her address so she can move her daughter to a more privileged school, and even risks prison to further her work. "The story is uncomfortable and excellently handled by Rosenfeld," said Publisher's Weekly. "It invites questions about faithfulness and philanthropy, one's obligation to those less fortunate, and what it means to be middle-class in an unequal society."

 

To purchase these books and others by Cornellians, or to submit your book for possible mention in Cornell Alumni Magazine, go to the "Cornell Authors" tab at cornellalumnimagazine.com.

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