A hard-knocks addiction memoir buoyed with humor and insight.

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MY FAIR JUNKIE

A MEMOIR OF GETTING DIRTY AND STAYING CLEAN

An addict reflects on her long, bumpy road to eventual recovery.

“Welcome to the mind of an alcoholic addict,” writes Dresner in her effortlessly candid and wryly written chronicle of a life hijacked by drugs, booze, and bad behavior. As a noted West Hollywood stand-up comedian and addiction journalist, she handles this complex tale with wit; while a lot of her pain is deflected through her droll tone, there remains an undertone of suffering and debilitating illness. The narrative is refreshingly devoid of overanalysis on her childhood as the daughter of divorced parents who were “well matched in that they both loved to drink and fight.” Instead, the author delves directly into the heart of her own personal darkness, a fight with her husband that escalated into a pulled knife, a restraining order, and nights spent “smoking, squatting, and crying on the dark, quiet, ritzy sidewalks of the Hollywood Hills.” A vividly described (and short-lived) fifth visit to a rehab facility provided only a temporary fix. Hospital psychiatric holds, wrist cutting, divorce, emotionless sex, community service, and an admitted lack of impulse control collectively contributed to the author’s lowest points, which are depressingly abysmal yet illustrate a brutally honest insider’s viewpoint into cyclical, interdependent worlds of rehab, relapse, and recovery. In a conversational, self-deprecating tone, Dresner dictates a nonstop barrage of events in which AA meetings and everyday life blur into one another amid the tragic, rhythmic seesawing between inebriation and rickety detoxification. Some shared memories are crisply drawn, others clouded by the haze of chemically induced euphoria. Other chapters are gilded in some rather self-effacing hindsight wisdom: “I guess I am just one of those stubborn assholes who has to burn their house to the ground to realize you shouldn’t play with matches.” When Dresner finally decided to take getting clean seriously after performing a monthlong court-ordered service sweeping the condoms and syringes off Santa Monica Boulevard, her resolve is palpable.

A hard-knocks addiction memoir buoyed with humor and insight.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-43095-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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