A sardonic memoir full of unexpected anxieties—and familial love.

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WHITE HOT GRIEF PARADE

A MEMOIR

An actress and singer struggles through her father’s illness and the aftermath of his death.

Silber (After Anatevka, 2017), who has performed on Broadway and London’s West End, was a young child when she became aware that her father had cancer. Quickly, her life was organized around her father’s imminent passing, with systematic chemotherapy treatments, medical trials, and the threat of abandonment. “I rigorously took on the task of providing my parents with a perfect child: a singular source of hope and joy and promise,” writes the author. “It was in this internal atmosphere that I smothered myself, believing in my bones that any problem, mistake, even the tiniest of transgressions, was my contribution to not curing cancer.” The narrative moves among sections that explore what happened before, during, and after the death of her father, focusing especially on the funeral. “Funerals are a social mystery,” she writes, “a formulaic social mystery, but mysterious nonetheless….You just muddle through each funeral, hoping you’re doing the right thing, and then you largely forget about it until you have to muddle through it again the next time.” Of course, her father’s funeral was far from forgettable. Rather, it was full of memorable interactions with family members that left the author numb, shaken, and, ultimately, scarred for life. Though the subject matter of the memoir is heavy, Silber’s tone is full of optimism and irreverence, effectively keeping readers engaged as they travel through their darkest thoughts. Throughout, the author includes original haiku, frequent discussions of her favorite movie, What About Bob?, bits of scripted conversations between her and her family members, lovers, and friends, and a host of funny diagrams. “You know what’s awesome? Irony,” she writes. “People my age learned what it means from Alanis Morissette, so our grasp is tenuous at best, but when it plays out over life and death situations it can get pretty trippy.”

A sardonic memoir full of unexpected anxieties—and familial love.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-764-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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