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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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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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.


A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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