Kate Tuttle

Writer & Critic

Kate Tuttle

Writing on books and authors, race and politics, family and childhood.


Songs and Stories to Keep the Ghosts at Bay

The child psychologist Selma Fraiburg wrote about a phenomenon she called ghosts in the nursery: the unexamined, maybe even unremembered, feelings from our earliest days that haunt us when we become parents. We all have them, those unmet needs or wishes from our own childhood, the painful bits that creep in and affect how we parent. I’m sure I’m haunted by more than one, but the one I know best is the bedtime ghost of fear and loneliness.
Catapult Link to Story

Why Do Women Love True Crime?

The first murder I remember was a ghost story, told at my summer camp in Michigan. I was around 12, so this was in the time of disco. At night, in a dark cabin, a girl told the rest of us about her older sister’s friend. Or maybe her friend’s older cousin: one of those twice-removed protagonists of a supposedly true account.
The New York Times Link to Story

‘Sigh, Gone’ memoir blends books, punk, and a refugee’s fight to fit in

Phuc Tran normally teaches Latin and Greek to high school students, but in the era of COVID-19 he finds himself teaching kindergarten and 3rd grade to his own children. “I think the student evaluations are not going to be kind,” he said with a laugh. Tran, who lives in Portland, Maine, is also a tattoo artist.
The Boston Globe Link to Story

Schizophrenia devastated a family: Robert Kolker did their story justice

If this were a normal author profile written during an ordinary time, I’d probably lead with some details about how Robert Kolker looks, what he wore, whether he ordered avocado toast at the Brooklyn coffee shop where we’d arranged to meet. I’d have laid my phone on the table to tape our conversation, notebook at hand to jot down anything particularly personal, or funny, or revealing.
Los Angeles Times Link to Story

Sarah DiGregorio’s history of premature birth shows promising developments

When Sarah DiGregorio gave birth to her daughter, Mira, at 28 weeks’ gestation, the baby weighed just one pound, thirteen ounces. She spent nearly two months in the NICU, but she survived — today, Mira’s a happy, healthy kindergartener, “funny and sharp and inquisitive,” DiGregorio said. It wasn’t until a year after her daughter’s birth that DiGregorio, a journalist whose previous work mostly revolved around food writing, sat down to write about it.
The Boston Globe Link to Story

In Meng Jin’s ‘Little Gods,’ the inescapable pull of a family history

Meng Jin’s debut novel begins with a scene inspired by her own life. “I was born in the spring of 1989 in China,” she said, “and my father told me when I was a child that if it weren’t for the fact that I had just been born, he would have been in Beijing protesting with the students.”. In the book, “Little Gods,” a baby is born the night of June 4, 1989, as the tanks roll in to Tiananmen Square and her father disappears.
The Boston Globe Link to Story

Peggy Orenstein on birds, bees, and boys

As soon as journalist Peggy Orenstein finished 2016’s “Girls and Sex,” friends suggested she write a follow-up volume about boys. She resisted. “I kept saying no, that’s really somebody else’s job. I don’t want to do that,” Orenstein said. “And I think part of it was fear that they wouldn’t talk to me.”.
The Boston Globe Link to Story

'Disney's Land': The making of the Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney in an uncharacteristically empty Town Square, possibly musing about what his $17 million has bought, and definitely planning how to improve on it. For use in bookreview: For use in bookreview: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World by Richard Snow, Scribner Credit: Getty Images /Gene Lester.
Newsday Link to Story

Review: Kevin Wilson's Nothing to See Here

In the great gothic ghost stories, children were often blessed (or cursed) with being able to see things adults could not: spirits and haints, things undead or at least unspoken. In real life, too, children can sometimes see things more clearly than grownups; like dogs, they are great judges of character.
Barnes & Noble Review Link to Story

In 'Unfollow,' a memoir about leaving a brutal church

Many people in Topeka, Kan., first became aware of the Westboro Baptist Church in the early 1990s, when members began what would become their trademark public action: picketing to protest what they saw as the ills of an ungodly world. Megan Phelps-Roper was 5 years old when it began; as a little girl, she stood with her parents and other family members — for that's what the church was at the time, one extended family — holding picket signs warning of gay people in the city's Gage Park.

Review: Gymnasts voice their fury in ‘The Girls’

The girls came from small towns and suburbs. All were energetic kids, climbing and tumbling and sending their parents scrambling for outlets for their daughters’ vibrant energy. They crossed paths with the predator in places where they should have been safe: gym, school, the doctor’s office. And they all came away from the encounters changed — even if it took years before they realized just how much, and why.
Los Angeles Times Link to Story

'In the Country of Women' review: A family's strong female roots

"In the Country of Women" by Susan Straight Photo Credit: Catapult. IN THE COUNTRY OF WOMEN: A MEMOIR by Susan Straight (Catapult, 384 pp., $26) Some memoirs look deeply inward, examining how the self is formed in the crucible of the world. Susan Straight’s “In the Country of Women” works in the opposite way: addressed to the author’s three daughters, this is a book that spirals outward, gathering and illuminating stories of ancestors, family and community.
Newsday Link to Story


Kate Tuttle

I'm on the executive board of the National Book Critics Circle. My reviews and articles about books have appeared in the Boston Globe, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Salon,, and elsewhere. Native Kansan, longtime Cantabrigian, lately of Georgia, now in New Jersey. Mother, wife, pal.

Feel free to email me at