An earnest, inspiring memoir for Christian readers and fans of Growing Pains.




Phillips’ debut memoir tells the story of how a wish when he was an ill child led to his career as a successful doctor.

As a boy growing up in Jena, Louisiana, the author suffered from a serious heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot. It was so serious that when he was 11 years old, the Starlight Children’s Foundation flew him and his mother to the set of his most beloved television show, ABC’s Growing Pains. Phillips’ favorite character was Ben Seaver, played by child actor Jeremy Miller, mostly because the troubled Phillips was so enamored with Ben’s seemingly perfect life. The trip was a huge inspiration to the author. “The Starlight wish,” he remembers, “set into motion the idea that if I could go from Jena to Hollywood, I could go from despair to hope, from an adolescent death sentence to the fulfilling life I have today as a pediatric cardiologist.” In the memoir, the author recounts that journey, from the effects of his illness on his already troubled family life to his trip to the Growing Pains set to his fears of not being able to attend college to an unexpected second open heart surgery when he was attending medical school in New Orleans. Just as he was graduating, fate happened to bring the reunited Growing Pains cast to Louisiana, giving Phillips the opportunity to thank the actor who’d inspired him years before. Phillips writes in a clean, conversational prose style: “I knew just enough from my anatomy class to worry about the possible risks of the surgery, and I could not stop going over all the things that could go wrong.” In addition to his own story, he writes quite a bit about the life and struggles of Miller, who’s listed as a co-author here; these include dysfunctional family issues, struggles with anxiety, and financial troubles. The connection between Phillips and the sitcom star is legitimately intriguing, and readers who are religiously inclined (like Phillips and Growing Pains co-star Kirk Cameron, who provides the book's introduction) might see the hand of God at work in this story.

An earnest, inspiring memoir for Christian readers and fans of Growing Pains.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-59555-856-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: July 26, 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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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.


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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