A mother and her children gain wisdom from a family health crisis.


A mother struggles to find a cure for her daughter’s unusual seizures—and the whole family benefits—in a debut memoir.

In third grade, Sette’s only daughter began to slip backward in her development, regressing in reading and communicating and losing the ability to buckle her seat belt. Diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy known as electro-status epilepticus sleep syndrome, or Landau-Kleffner syndrome, Nicolette had nighttime seizures that impaired her sleep, and the available medications didn’t work well for her. In this book, Sette describes her panicked odyssey into alternative treatments for her daughter, which over time helped her understand how the brain and the rest of the body work together. Nicolette finally began to improve when doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia allowed her to enroll in its ketogenic diet program. And after seeing the improvement in her daughter, Sette began to make healthy changes in her life, too, looking into neurofeedback, meditation, mindfulness, mantras, brain training games, and more. As a result, she and her daughter and sons, Zachary and Anthony, learned enduring lessons about the connections between the brain and body—involving diet, exercise, sleep, self-knowledge, and self-expression—that Sette describes in this book. Though Nicolette’s health problems are often the focus of the story, the author and her sons also stepped outside their comfort zones, as Zachary began a demanding pre-med program at Pennsylvania State University, Anthony had “terrible headaches” after a concussion, and both sons had to learn to help their sister. Sette’s suggestions are largely practical—though often New Age–y—and focused on basics such as healthy eating and finding a balance in life that allows for creativity, play, and humor. Along the way, the author found inspiration in sources ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Albert Einstein and from Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book The Secret (2006) to Norwegian physiology professor Ulrik Wisløff. But she distills what she learned into a simple message for anyone hoping to feel physically and mentally better: “To sum up, take inventory and start with small overall steps toward health; that will make it easier.”

A mother and her children gain wisdom from a family health crisis. (reader's guide, bibliography, author bio)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982230-51-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 27, 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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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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