A thoroughly researched, provocative book of justice gone wrong.

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EXONEREE DIARIES

THE FIGHT FOR INNOCENCE, INDEPENDENCE, AND IDENTITY

Chicago journalist Flowers goes deep into the cases of three innocent men and a woman serving at least a decade in prison for crimes they never committed.

The case of the woman's wrongful conviction occurred in mostly rural Decatur County, Indiana; the cases of all three men occurred in densely populated Cook County, Illinois (Chicago), infamous for a fractured criminal justice system. Each case received local media coverage over the years, but none of the four is well-known nationally. No author has covered the years after exoneration with the same depth as Flowers does in this disturbing book. Although the case studies are not intended as narratives of prison life, the author does provide insights into prison routines, including the many cruelties endured by inmates. As with thousands of other documented wrongful convictions across the United States, the cases chosen by Flowers seem absurd in hindsight: how could so many detectives, prosecutors, forensic analysts, judges, and jurors make such egregious errors, while the actual perpetrators remained unpunished? The only heroes within the system are the defense appellate lawyers who labor for years on wrongful conviction litigation. Flowers' primary focus, however, is the lack of compassion shown to the exonerated defendants after their releases from prison. Illinois, Indiana, and most other states erect obstacles to compensating exonerees financially for their lost years and their physical and emotional suffering, and some states provide no compensation. Flowers ably shows that even under the best of circumstances, exonerees struggle with family relationships, job searches, recovery from prison-related health problems, adjustments to new technologies, and more. She does offer examples of efforts, mostly poorly funded, to help exonerees, but she makes the significant point that prisoners actually guilty of crimes often receive more government assistance after release than exonerees.

A thoroughly researched, provocative book of justice gone wrong.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60846-587-3

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Haymarket

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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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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