A well-written personal tale of a woman’s trials of the spirit and her passage to healing.

ME, MY MOTHER, MY LIFE

Adeniola examines her relationship with her mother in this self-help book.

As a young Christian in southwestern Nigeria, author Adeniola at times felt a sense of alienation from her family. Born in England, she loved her mother but was perplexed by her conduct. As a child, Adeniola was singled out for verbal and physical abuse and punishment by her parents. The author had high aspirations, and although she received distinctions in her classes, her mother was dissatisfied and criticized her excessively. Originally planning a career in medicine, the author pursued estate management at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife. Her mother, a nurse, moved to Saudi Arabia, leaving Adeniola and her sister on their own. Although the narrator made wise use of funds entrusted to her, when her mother returned to visit, she wrongly accused Adeniola of swindling her. Eventually, the author left Nigeria, moving first to London and then to Bath, beginning an arduous journey of healing and understanding. The author writes with honesty and tenderness about her life and relationships. The book provides insights into Adeniola’s cultural background and the grim living circumstances in Nigeria under the military government’s Structural Adjustment Programme. At the core is her relationship with her mother, who vacillated in her approach to parenting—love and trust coupled with rejection and distrust. Among the mother’s odd behaviors was the habit of discussing nauseating details of patient injuries during meals, which ruined everyone’s appetite and reinforced her control. Overall, this is a story of family dysfunction and twisted dynamics in which a particular family member (in this case, Adeniola) was targeted as the scapegoat. Parts of the story are painful to read, and the author deftly explains how to establish boundaries to halt the cycle of blame. The book may help others coming to terms with unhealthy associations in their family of origin.

A well-written personal tale of a woman’s trials of the spirit and her passage to healing.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468585551

Page Count: 372

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2013

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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