A heartfelt, valuable resource and source of comfort for parents of mentally ill children.

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WITNESS TO THE DARK

MY DAUGHTER'S TROUBLED TIMES. A COMEDY OF EMOTIONS.

In this accessible, chatty memoir about his daughter’s struggles with mental illness, first-time writer Larsted narrates, in exhaustive detail, his rocky four-year journey navigating the perilous mental-health system, his daughter’s shape-shifting symptoms, intermittent hospital stays and behavioral therapy.

Larsted’s book is a labor of love addressed to a parent like him—one not well versed in the mental health field or particularly aware of the psychological sphere of the human condition—and yet thrown into the dark, deep end of it. The alarm first sounded when his 14-year-old daughter, Patricia, reported, two months after the fact, that she took 14 Tylenol. Larsted, starting from ground zero, had to find the guidance and treatment his daughter required. Because of his wife’s recent stroke, it was left to him to handle. Although the author considers this Patricia’s story, it’s Larsted who goes from being a self-described “aloof” old-school father to a nurturing, articulate advocate and near expert on coping with a child’s severe, undiagnosed mental illness. He emerges on the other side having kept Patricia safe through her precarious adolescence and having evolved into a wise and soulful man. Larsted’s prose is admirable in many ways: He writes with emotional honesty, deftly uses metaphor and analogy, balances the specifics of both the trial and error of medication and sympathetically details his often frustrating experiences dealing with psychiatrists. Still, this book would have benefited from further editing to clarify meaning and tone in places where tacked-on lines, stream-of-consciousness tangents and stating the obvious lessen the narrative’s impact. In addition, often too many emotions are explored in a single sentence or paragraph.

A heartfelt, valuable resource and source of comfort for parents of mentally ill children.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2013

ISBN: 9781468150131

Page Count: 262

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2013

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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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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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