An intensely honest and engrossing account of a young man’s struggles to calm his demons.




A writer with bipolar disorder portrays the highs and lows of his psychotic episodes in this memoir.

Raised in an upper-middle-class, loving home with two siblings, the young Stevens firmly believed life was good. Although shorter than most of his peers in high school, through relentless training and a fierce competitive spirit, he excelled at basketball. He was elected team captain in his senior year. But severe hallucinations began in his freshman year at college. Clouds in the sky talked to him and turned into a lion, a bunny, and then a king wearing a crown. “I am a king,” he thought. This led to his first confinement in a psychiatric hospital. There would be two more psychotic episodes resulting in hospitalization, until he learned to identify and cope with the triggers for his mania. The author’s forthright prose graphically illustrates his varying states of mind: “I looked up and saw a gorilla with my face on the ceiling fighting a wolf….The wolf ripped my head off and chewed on it. I swallowed with fear.” At the beginning of his candid and absorbing memoir, Stevens delivers a vivid description of a manic escapade, capturing the ferocity of his flights from reality and the strange aftermaths. He was in “a packed pizza shop” and yelled, “Shut the fuck up! I’ve had enough of you all talking behind my back!” When a guy tried to help, the author pushed him back over a table. About 30 men were ready to eject him so he charged “toward the door” and “was met by punches.” But once out on the street, he writes, “I stood up like nothing had happened and went about my day.” Despite his illness, the author displays great self-confidence while discussing his accomplishments during his nonmanic periods, when he could harness his energy and singular focus into productive endeavors. He was a firebrand door-to-door salesman for an office products company, earned “$100,000” playing poker, and became general manager of a fitness club chain and vice president of his brother’s software company—all before the age of 29. This illuminating book should especially appeal to readers coping with bipolar disorder and their families and friends.

An intensely honest and engrossing account of a young man’s struggles to calm his demons.

Pub Date: April 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64544-049-9

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2020

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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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