A wise and winning—and polite—memoir and manifesto.

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The star of Parks and Recreation shares stories from her adolescence, her star-making tenure at Saturday Night Live and her abiding love of improvisation.

In her debut book, comedian Poehler credits her approach to work to Carol Burnett, who was "funny and versatile and up for anything" and "a benevolent captain" on her eponymous variety show. The author’s successful career proves that collaboration, good manners and gratitude are assets in both business and life. She has written a happy, angst-free memoir with stories told without regret or shame; rather, Poehler provides a series of lessons learned about achieving success through ambition and a resolute spirit. She affectionately recounts her perfect-seeming childhood and adolescence, including making lifelong friends, waiting tables, and living and working in the rough, pre-gentrified Greenwich Village. Poehler is especially grateful to her proud, comical parents and shares their wisdom with readers: "Make sure he's grateful to be with you," "Ask for what you want" and "Always overtip." With benevolent humor, she shares "Obligatory Drug Stories, or Lessons I Learned on Mushrooms" (“I’ve tried most drugs but avoided the BIG BAD ONES”) and explores why ambivalence is an important component of success in a chapter titled “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend.” Along with Meredith Walker and Amy Miles, Poehler has created a Web series, "Smart Girls at the Party," to empower and celebrate women and girls who "chang[e] the world by being themselves." The author conveys the ethos of this project in pithy statements and reassurances sprinkled throughout the book in large type—e.g., "If It's Not Funny, You Don't Have To Laugh" and "Everybody Is Scared Most Of The Time." This is not a treacly self-help book or spiritual guide but rather motivation from a hilarious and kindhearted champion.

A wise and winning—and polite—memoir and manifesto.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-226834-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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