A perfect graduation gift for young women—but the advice is applicable to all.

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Do Your Laundry or You'll Die Alone

Mixed-media artist and debut author Blades combines wit with sincere counsel in an innovative scrapbook format.

With a daughter approaching high school graduation, Blades began compiling life lessons she hoped to impart on her daughter. The resulting book of aphorisms could have been schmaltzy but is instead both humorous and visually impressive. Offered as a numbered list in a quirky variety of fonts, her maternal instructions range from two words to paragraphs. The themes may be perennial advice-guide fodder—seizing the day, embracing creativity, being prudent with money and treating others with compassion—but snappy delivery and unsentimental wording help them feel fresh. Thus the doctrine of mindfulness becomes, simply, “WHEREVER YOU ARE, BE ALL THERE.” Where Blades acknowledges clichés, she always adds a clever twist: “IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. You’re smart enough to think of something nice.” She also debunks a few old chestnuts: Instead of exhorting girls to “dream big,” which she’s nonetheless in favor of, she reassures them that “It’s okay to OUTGROW YOUR DREAMS.” Some standout features include two-page spreads in which each epigram repeats the same first word (“KEEP your knees together when you’re sitting on stage”; “KEEP your head when all about you are losing theirs,” etc.), occasional puns (“HAVE RUBBER GLOVES. On hand”), and echoes of Kipling’s “If—” and Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. In one notable, original proverb, Blades balances enthusiasm with discipline: “COMMON SENSE AND SELF-RESTRAINT SHRINK IN THE PRESENCE OF PASSION. Does this mean don’t be passionate? Absolutely not.” Pithy recommendations about forgiveness, charitableness, being a good hostess and accepting change would be valuable in their own rights, but the whimsical artwork renders the book all the more delightful. Cutouts of paper dolls and maps share space with colorful, textured illustrations of houses, trees and clouds. Fashion plates lend a sophisticated, faux Parisian feel, while plentiful tips on Internet and cellphone etiquette help put the book on trend for today’s teenagers. Inspirational yet never syrupy, the text could easily be read in one sitting and should prove useful throughout college and beyond.

A perfect graduation gift for young women—but the advice is applicable to all.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9897583-0-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Startistry Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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