An absorbing and timely manual that defies simple classification and should appeal to readers of varying religious beliefs.

THE BRIDGE

THINK ON THESE THINGS

A songwriter, therapist, and author delivers a spirituality and self-help guide.

In the foreword, Wallace (A Mother’s Manual for Raising Recovering Children with Autism, 2016, etc.) explains that she was called by God to put aside her other responsibilities to write this book. Her overarching message is one of unity across religions, ethnicities, and cultures—and harmony with God as well. Through four sections and multiple short chapters, the author expounds on a variety of matters from an enlightened Christian perspective. The four parts encompass Individual Thoughts, Local Thoughts, Global Thoughts, and Universal Thoughts, followed by acknowledgements and recommended additional reading. Wallace’s own text is in a normal font, with quotes italicized and words directly from God in boldface. Although Wallace’s research on the teachings and writings of theologians and spiritual figures is shared throughout the narrative, this is not a book that focuses solely on religion. The subjects are wide-ranging, from homeless children and environmentalism to the Grammys and creativity. (Some of her topics have been explored more extensively by others, such as “dumbed-down” American culture.) The author argues that the majority of the population—Christians included, and perhaps especially—has grown complacent. While the book was initially written in 2003, she revised and published it in 2016, with many of the issues proving as equally, if not more, relevant now as they were during the beginning of the century. The quotations provide additional depth to her thoughts. She relies heavily on the Roman Catholic author and theologian Thomas Merton but also quotes such diverse inspirations as St. Francis of Assisi, George Washington, and Carlos Santana. Like her other offerings, this book is beautifully written. Anyone seeking more introspection and spirituality but who lacks the time or wherewithal to tackle a heavy text should find this guide engaging. Reading this work is an easy way to avoid the anti-intellectualism that Wallace decries, leading to “a more purposeful lifestyle infused with Divine meaning.”

An absorbing and timely manual that defies simple classification and should appeal to readers of varying religious beliefs.

Pub Date: May 12, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 149

Publisher: Sonrise Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 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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