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The Outsider

by Jimmy Connors |

REVIEWED BY ANDREW ABRAHAMS

MEMOIR

One of the original bad boys of tennis, Connors possessed a wicked two-handed backhand and a showman’s ego that could be just as punishing. But he also backed up the bluster, reigning as the No. 1 player in the world in the mid-’70s. In this brash and honest autobiography, he traces his relentless style to an incident from his youth in working-class East St. Louis, when his mom and grandfather were beaten by local punks. He honed his killer instincts on the court, battling a gambling addiction and OCD along the way. The book lands one explosive, insensitive drop shot, implying that his ex fiancée Chris Evert had an abortion in ’74, leading to their breakup. (Evert has said she is “extremely disappointed that he used the book to misrepresent a private matter.”) Connors’s critics will say he’s playing to type, but his lively memoir will have fans cheering for this down-the-line winner.

Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall

by Kjerstin Gruys |

REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

MEMOIR

A recovered anorexic and a sociologist specializing in body image, Gruys was horrified to realize, while shopping for her wedding dress, that she still held herself to the punishing beauty standards that had sparked her disease and her career. Gruys vowed to spend a year mirror-free to change her mind instead of her looks. The result is a funny, provocative memoir that just might make you want to follow suit.

Flora

by Gail Godwin |

REVIEWED BY ANNE LESLIE

NOVEL

Spending the summer of 1945 with her 22- year-old cousin Flora in an isolated house on a North Carolina mountainside is not 10-year-old Helen Anstruther’s idea of fun. Helen’s father is working at Oak Ridge (where the first atomic bomb is underway), and Flora’s trying to take charge. She’s “an instant crier” whose emotional transparency irritates Helen. But the situation’s no picnic for Flora, either: Her young charge is precocious, outspoken and barely holding the house and herself together after losing her beloved grandmother and the mother she scarcely knew. Three-time National Book Award finalist Godwin creates memorable characters and conversations that carry us effortlessly toward a dark denouement, one that infuses the rest of Helen’s life with profound appreciation for Flora’s unguarded heart.

The World’s Strongest Librarian

by Josh Hanagarne |

REVIEWED BY RICHARD EISENBERG

MEMOIR

Since age 6, Hanagarne has fought a losing battle with extreme Tourette’s syndrome. Though he tried everything from antipsychotics to Botox, nothing would stop his loud, painful tics. He lost jobs, girlfriends and weight and dropped out of college. But after the 6 ft. 7 in. Mormon became a librarian, took up weight lifting and learned a breathing technique that helped “throttle” his tics, his symptoms were tempered. Now a married dad, Hanagarne has written an inspiring, often funny tale about the power of persistence.

The 5th Wave

by Rick Yancey |

REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

Y.A. NOVEL

Extraterrestrials are wiping out the human race in “waves,” beginning by disabling our electronics. Then tsunamis overwhelm cities, a virus goes, well, viral and assassins pick off the scant survivors. Cassie Sullivan, 16, is one of those targets. To stay alive she must stay alone, but when (hunky) Evan Walker comes to her rescue, her injuries overcome her survivalist instincts. Borrow this one from your teen’s nightstand while they’re at school.

Margaret Thatcher

by Charles Moore |

REVIEWED BY KYLE SMITH

BIOGRAPHY

Opinion is unanimous: Thatcher either saved Britain or destroyed it. That settled, who was the real Iron Lady? Moore, who interviewed the former Prime Minister repeatedly before her April 8 death, unearths fascinating and humanizing details including her thoughts on fashion, revealing a rarely seen softer side. Whatever your politics, Thatcher’s improbable rise, from grocer’s daughter to the very top, remains an inspiring tale.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com