An intimate celebration of the power of compassion.

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MY GLORY WAS I HAD SUCH FRIENDS

A MEMOIR

Waiting for a new heart, the author was buoyed by nine devoted friends.

At the age of 25, Silverstein (Sick Girl, 2007) underwent a heart transplant, a grueling experience that she chronicled in her first memoir. The transplant was followed by other medical challenges: breast cancer, requiring a double mastectomy, and major valve surgery. At the age of 51, she learned that her transplanted heart was failing, and she needed another one. Because of an excessive quantity of antibodies resulting from the first transplant, Silverstein’s likelihood of getting a donor match was only 14 percent, and only Cedars-Sinai, in Los Angeles, offered the highly specialized treatment she required. Besides confronting the physical ordeal of surgery, she worried that she would be isolated from her friends and family in New York. When her closest friends learned of her imminent move, though, they banded together in a generous, selfless show of support, creating a spreadsheet that ensured an “unbroken chain of presence.” Her candid recounting of five months at Cedars-Sinai tautly conveys her pain, tension, and despair as she waited for a donor heart; and, crucial to her survival, the loyalty and love bestowed by the women who took turns sitting at her bedside, festooning her hospital room with photos and decorations, bearing witness to the frustrating and frightening realities of her profound illness, and easing her pain in whatever way they could. They also frankly chastised her about her irritability toward assorted medical personnel and her ever patient husband. More than once, Silverstein felt like giving up hope: the implantation of a pacemaker seemed more than she could bear. Resisting sedation for any procedure was a way she felt in control, but the pacemaker took over, riddling her with excruciating pain, increasing as her heart failed. The author takes her title from a poem by Yeats, one of many verses that she memorized to keep her spirits up. She amply testifies to the unfailing friends—her husband included—who never lost faith in her recovery.

An intimate celebration of the power of compassion.

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245746-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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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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