A somewhat lackluster but candid and heartfelt memoir.

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JUMPING OVER SHADOWS

A MEMOIR

A writer and photographer of German descent tells the story of how falling in love with and then marrying a Jewish man changed her life.

Gendler did not expect to meet "the man of her life" three weeks after her father's death, nor did she expect he would be Jewish, just like the man her Bohemia-born great-aunt Resi had wed and then divorced to protect herself and her children from the horrors of Nazism. Yet it soon became clear that Harry, who had grown up in Germany (as had the New Jersey–born author) but carried a French passport, was someone with whom she could share interests along with “a certain sense of not belonging.” The difference in their religious backgrounds, as well as Gendler’s own unfinished business with an ex-boyfriend and Harry’s fear of upsetting a father who would say “[Kaddish], the prayer for the dead” if he discovered the relationship, made them cautious to become closer. All too aware of the obstacles that stood in their way, they hid their relationship for more than two years from everyone except close friends. A trip to Israel and, later, to various Jewish memorials around Germany with Harry led to a deepening of Gendler’s interest in Jewish culture and religion and her eventual decision to marry him and convert to Judaism. Her decision to become “part of a minority saddled with centuries of prejudice” caused painful endings to long-standing friendships. It also created tensions with Harry’s parents, who the author realized would have waged “a steady and relentless war” to keep the pair apart had they known she and Harry were dating. A move to Chicago allowed the pair a chance to build a successful marriage and life away from those who would judge them. Interwoven with the story of Gendler’s great-aunt and illustrated with family photographs, the author’s story offers an intimate and interesting—though not especially compelling—look at one woman’s life choices and their outcomes.

A somewhat lackluster but candid and heartfelt memoir.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-170-6

Page Count: 232

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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