The heart-rending effects of change laid bare.

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BRAVING TIME

FINDING THE WAY BACK

An insightful memoir that traces a teenage girl’s adjustment to her father’s sudden death.

Collins was a teenager growing up in Central Pennsylvania when her “safe and secure” world irrevocably changed. As she recalls in her moving, sharply observed memoir, she had just come home from school when she learned her father had died of a heart attack at the age of 47. “Life without my dad was unimaginable,” she says. Collins recalls how her life evolved after the tragedy, changes made even more difficult by the loss of the family home, a controlling uncle—“suspicion and loathing for him clung to me like moss to tree bark”—and a remote, anguished mother. As a child, Collins obviously wasn’t able to approach her mother’s condition from a clinical perspective; she merely saw a woman with whom she’d desperately like to connect but, in another of the book’s many compelling metaphors, who “resisted speaking of things that bothered her like a clam resisted being opened by a starfish.” In only the first year after her father’s death, she writes, “there had been so many changes….Things I couldn’t foresee; things I couldn’t control.” Finally, one “dark night of winter,” she found her mother sitting silent and alone in their modest apartment, her “crystal blue eyes” having turned “strangely dark—like two black disks void of focus or feeling.” Her mother had packed a suitcase to go to California. “Terror mainlined in my veins,” Collins remembers. Her mother had electroshock treatments in a psychiatric ward, where a nurse unraveled the mystery, telling Collins that she was in a deep depression. The later part of the book, in which Collins describes her college years and a relationship with a student who became her first husband, is less gripping. But as a whole, the memoir is an effective exploration of change and how to come to terms with it. Through all the losses, Collins says, she was “beginning to begin a long process of discernment about how I wanted to handle my life, wherever the river of time would carry me.”

The heart-rending effects of change laid bare.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1452556390

Page Count: 280

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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