A poignant tale from the heart, though it could use some pruning.

Unraveled: A Story of Heartache and Hope

In this debut memoir, Laverty recounts the story of her son Matt’s heroin addiction.

Laverty says her purpose in writing is to show others how to prevent and cope with addiction. Her book, prefaced with the Serenity Prayer, offers detailed accounts of Matt’s repetitive cycles of addiction: his numerous attempts to stay drug-free; his temporary successes; his thefts, deceptions and lies; his six in-patient rehabilitation treatments; as well as the cumulative effect on the family. Laverty is a mother of three; two of her children are disabled, and Matt is, as she puts it in a letter to him, “the child of my hopes and dreams.” From a portrayal of Matt as a child, Laverty moves on to narrate his early use of alcohol and marijuana. She goes on to document his clever lies as a college student to extract money from his parents, his shiftlessness and preoccupation with drugs, and his parents’ gradual comprehension: “Finally we realized he had a drug addiction.” Matt vowed over and over again to attend counseling, attend 12-step meetings, keep his menial jobs and stay off heroin. His parents were sometimes hopeful, paying for his numerous rehab stints and giving him money for what they believed were his living expenses. Then, inevitably, Matt swiped their checks or stole their collectibles, or he was fired from work for not showing up, which led to his mother’s deepening despair. She even consulted a psychic and a medium. She was told she was “enabling him yet again,” though eventually, she realized, “I had to let go.” But maybe there’s hope for Matt after all. In a candid, unaffected style, Laverty realistically portrays her anguish, and her feelings for her son are apparent and moving. Her sensible trepidation can be heart-wrenching: “[F]or the moment, there is a happy ending.” That said, the book could have benefited from an additional round of editing to eliminate many of the sometimes-repetitive particulars in the patterns of addiction, enabling and relapse, which, though truthful, can slow down the narrative.

A poignant tale from the heart, though it could use some pruning.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1484167953

Page Count: 488

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 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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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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