An authentic firsthand account of troubled times in a tumultuous country.

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The Sky Detective

A MEMOIR

A compelling debut memoir by an accomplished geophysical scientist that offers a vivid look at life in Tehran between 1973 and 1982, before and after the Iranian Revolution.

Tabazadeh was just a few days shy of her eighth birthday in 1973 when her beloved uncle Mahmood gave her a present that would profoundly influence her life: a chemistry set. Tabazadeh was a happy, bright child living the privileged life of a daughter of an affluent family. With the shah still in power, Tehran was primarily a secular city, free of the harsh religious restrictions imposed once the ayatollah came to power. Western music and American movies were popular, and clothing styles were modern with colorful Persian accents, all of which the author describes in fluid, engaging prose. It was a place where a young girl could dream of one day becoming a famous chemist. When the author’s family brought an 11-year-old girl named Najmieh into the household to work as a servant, even a very young Tabazadeh began to see for the first time the stark contrasts between the educated upper class and the peasant class that made up the bulk of the population. A budding friendship between the two girls galvanized the author to take part in demonstrations against the shah. What she didn’t anticipate were the violence and authoritarian law that replaced the old regime. Her beautiful city was streaked with blood, and Tabazadeh, then a young teenager, was forced to cover her head with a veil and ultimately to cover her whole body in black robes. As she approached her high school graduation, she realized she no longer had a future in Iran. In gripping detail, she describes her dangerous escape to the West, where she has been able to fulfill her aspirations. The narrative is written in the present tense, giving the child/teenager an unlikely adult voice, though the literary device does create a compelling dynamic immediacy. Filled with details of day-to-day life, this volume offers a unique perspective on a country and a people that remain shrouded in mystery for most Westerners.

An authentic firsthand account of troubled times in a tumultuous country.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-4917-6060-4

Page Count: 246

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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