A poignant memoir that chronicles a harrowing personal journey and explores the more mystical aspects of yoga.



A debut author recounts her life as the youngest child in a dysfunctional family and her decades-long struggle to find inner peace and love.

In 1972, when the author was 9 years old, her sister Neelam committed suicide by drinking weed killer. Neelam was only 13, and the repercussions from her sister’s tragic death would permanently tear apart a family that was already fracturing at the seams. In her memoir, Ashta-deb clearly describes the challenges she faced. She was born in Guyana to a family of Indian heritage. All but her paternal grandmother were Hindus. The family, both immediate and extended, had a complicated history of loving closeness and intermittent, traumatizing violence and verbal abuse, a cycle that would repeat through the generations. In 1967, Ashta-deb, her parents, and her two older sisters, Neelam and Priya, moved to Toronto. When her father mysteriously returned to Guyana in 1971 (the author later learned he was wanted by the Canadian police for embezzlement), the rest of the family eventually followed, although her mother made repeated trips back to Canada. By this time, each of her parents had taken lovers, her mother in Canada and her father in Guyana. Gradually, Priya and later the author and her mother returned to Canada. In an emotional, well-written, but often disturbing narrative, Ashta-deb recalls her mother’s repeated abandonments and incessant criticism: “How you looking so ugly?” Much of the heartbreaking book centers on the author’s attempts to understand her own unstable behavior, first via psychotherapy and then through intensive meditation and kriya yoga. (The work should particularly appeal to yoga enthusiasts.) Determined to build on her “heightened clairvoyance and extraordinary abilities,” she participated in various retreats and pilgrimages to India, which she details vividly and extensively. She also shares with readers her spiritual visions (for example, she, like her grandfather, has seen the date of her own death). Her decision to ingest a psychedelic mushroom to deal with persistent clinical depression seems to have brought her clarity: “The psilocybin forced me to open doors within myself that I was too afraid to do with my conscious mind.”

A poignant memoir that chronicles a harrowing personal journey and explores the more mystical aspects of yoga.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 275

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

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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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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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