A graceful memoir recounting a family’s stories with candor and sensitivity.

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SAVAGE FEAST

THREE GENERATIONS, TWO CONTINENTS, AND A DINNER TABLE (A MEMOIR WITH RECIPES)

Food from the old country nourishes the spirits of refugees.

At the age of 9, journalist and novelist Fishman (Creative Writing/Princeton Univ.; Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo, 2016, etc.) immigrated to the United States from Soviet Belarus with his parents and grandparents via Vienna and Rome. In each city, they underwent an examination of documents, health, and suitability to enter the U.S. The process was protracted and tense, and some families were turned away. But after making an emotional case for their oppression, they were approved, and on Thanksgiving Day, 1988, they landed in New York to begin the challenging transformation of becoming Americans. Central to Fishman’s insightful, absorbing memoir is hunger: “the trauma-derived mother-hunger that won’t give you a moment to wonder if you’re really hungry underneath all that worry.” The trauma of cultural loss, shared by many immigrants, was assuaged by his grandfather’s home health aide, whose recipes for potato latkes, stuffed cabbage, braised rabbit, liver pie, and scores more make the memoir a succulent treat. Besides hunger, the family harbored an overwhelming fear of risk and deep-seated pessimism. When Fishman’s mother went to a therapist, distraught at her son’s reckless decision to move to Mexico, the therapist, bemused, asked, “what if it goes well?” His mother was stunned: “Something as obvious as things turning out okay even if someone split from the pack had never occurred to her.” Although their innate sense of doom made his family seem “medieval and maimed,” he, too, was dogged by a pervasive feeling of sorrow and disorientation that led him to bruising romantic relationships and emerged as full-blown depression. “I used to think,” he writes, “that if I could just persuade them that risk brought reward, that things turned out okay now and then, I could be myself without confusing or hurting them. But their losses and shocks reached so far,” he concedes, “I couldn’t save them.” With great effort (and therapy and antidepressants), he managed to save himself.

A graceful memoir recounting a family’s stories with candor and sensitivity.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286789-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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