A moving but uneven account of exceptional courage.



A teenager diagnosed with terminal cancer lives life to the fullest in this debut book.

Adrienne was 15 years old when she was diagnosed with an incurable form of liver cancer. She had been attending the Coachella music festival to see her favorite band, Jane’s Addiction, and returned complaining about severe pain beneath her right rib. Woods, her sister, who narrates this work, showed little sympathy, at first blaming her sibling’s discomfort on excesses at Coachella. When Adrienne visited a clinic, a concerned doctor suggested an immediate referral and tests. A physician’s subsequent diagnosis—stage 4 hepatocellular carcinoma that had metastasized to Adrienne’s lungs—was received with shock and disbelief. After discussing Adrienne’s chemotherapy schedule, Woods calculated that her sister had “at best…six to eight months to live.” Adrienne, who had previously suffered from bouts of depression, seized this opportunity to live life to the maximum. She attended The Tonight Show and afterward met Jay Leno and, more importantly, her idol, guitarist Dave Navarro, whom she saw again on her Make-A-Wish day. The format of the work, an account of the 147 days from Adrienne’s first symptoms to her death, places a poignant emphasis on the importance of each fleeting moment. Adrienne’s voice is one of powerful, teenage defiance. An excerpt from her journal reads: “Every fucking moment after this cancer is dead I am going to be alive.…I’m going to theme parks and swimming pools, taking hiking trips and camping adventures.” The bulk of the narrative, provided by Woods, is emotionally controlled and concise—remaining candid but with no particular flair: “That night is the first time I pray about the cancer. It’s hard to pray to an entity you don’t believe in.” Despite its slightly unconventional format, this volume offers little else to set it apart from others of a similar nature. Adrienne’s journal entries are sufficiently stirring to motivate others facing terminal illness to seize the day but make up only a fraction of the book. Illustrated with family photographs throughout, this memoir/biography is deeply sad with inspirational flashes.

A moving but uneven account of exceptional courage.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5445-0459-9

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Build Your BLISSS

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2019

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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