Ultimately, the book is a page-turner, albeit one in which the need for the readers’ approval is felt on nearly every page.

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THIS WILL ONLY HURT A LITTLE

A highly candid, tell-all memoir from the cult-favorite actress.

In a book that often reads like a Real World confessional or an open diary, the Cougar Town star bares all in recounting her rise to fame: from childhood passion to become an actress to fraught teen years getting in with the wrong crowd and terminating a pregnancy to facing sexism in Hollywood to dating Colin Hanks to landing a role on Dawson’s Creek to countless failed auditions to falling in love with and then considering divorcing her husband. While the honesty is refreshing, much like her Instagram persona, the narrative occasionally comes across as narcissistic. Philipps is open about her overwhelming need to be liked and included, a sentiment that provides the throughline of the book. For example, she chronicles the time she dislocated her knee at a middle school dance because she wanted to see why boys where moshing to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” “That is what I get for wanting to know what was going on,” she writes, “for wanting to be a part of things, for wanting more….It’s too bad I didn’t realize the life lesson I was being handed. Because maybe, possibly, it would have saved me from even more pain in the years to come.” At the same time, Philipps is happy to dole out some literary retribution, calling out some of those who have wronged her—e.g., she calls Freaks & Geeks co-star James Franco “a fucking bully” and Modern Family director Steven Levitan “a fucking asshole” who enjoys “the joy of being an oblivious super successful white man” in showbiz. But while the author is quick to point the finger, she's also her own harshest critic. In explaining her Instagram use, she writes, “the reason I started the stories…was because I was lonely.”

Ultimately, the book is a page-turner, albeit one in which the need for the readers’ approval is felt on nearly every page.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8471-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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