An absorbing, emotionally raw confessional memoir.



Growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a woman wrestles with faith, family, and her own mind.

Poet, essayist, and fiction writer Myer was shaped by “the limited characters available to women in Mormonism: fallen woman or wife.” In her starkly revealing debut memoir, she recounts her struggle to define herself beyond those two roles, which, she came to realize, were “only a highly concentrated version of America.” Even outside of her religion, she was expected “to be the dentist’s wife, the artist’s wife, the killer’s wife: whoever I hook myself to stains me with his choices.” Her struggle was intensified by her family. Her bipolar mother retreated into depression, which Myer later understood to be rage turned inward; her father protected his wife from their children, leaving Myer feeling abandoned. Molested by a teenage cousin when she was 7, at 12, she encouraged the physical attentions of a 15-year-old neighbor, let the paperboy “(sin sin sin) feel my breasts,” and suffered a sexual assault by a 26-year-old man. That traumatic experience didn’t stop her from going to a man’s hotel room when she was “maybe thirteen….We keep our clothes on, mostly.” Myer calls these encounters “wiving.” As she writes, “I have been wiving since I was a little girl. I am good at wiving. I fail at wiving. Both are true.” Seeing a man happy “will light me up all my life, no matter how many times it is the exact wrong thing to do, the wrong man to cheer.” That is her job, as written in the Scriptures: “and if you are to be good at it, you have to start practicing early.” Promiscuousness also assuaged a fear that she was unlovable, “that, without another person to see me, I disappear, I cease to matter.” Myer recounts in candid detail her process of self-discovery and eventual, hard-won empowerment.

An absorbing, emotionally raw confessional memoir.

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950691-47-0

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A self-aware confessional from a successful and controversial musician.


The Grammy-winning Irish singer/songwriter looks back on her eventful life.

Promising candor and clarity, O’Connor (b. 1966) opens with a caveat that her story only details lucid periods of her life when she was psychologically “present.” Omitting hazy years in which she drifted off “somewhere else inside myself”—material some readers may wish she included—the author shares pivotal milestones (raising four children) and entertaining anecdotes. O’Connor vividly recalls an abusive Catholic childhood in Dublin with a cruel, unstable mother. As a rebellious teenager, she was sent to a reform asylum, where her love for music became the ultimate refuge, leading to band gigs and eventually a record deal in London in 1985. The Lion and the Cobra achieved gold status, and O’Connor describes the development of her persona: shaved head, baggy clothing, and stormy, antagonistic, always forthright demeanor. The author addresses her mental health challenges and experimentation with sex and drugs (“In the locked ward where they put you if you’re suicidal, there’s more class A drugs than in Shane MacGowan’s dressing room”) as well as two iconic moments in her career: her smash-hit cover of the Prince-penned “Nothing Compares 2 U” and her notorious performance on Saturday Night Live in 1992, when she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II. “A lot of people say or think that tearing up the pope’s photo derailed my career. That’s not how I feel about it,” she writes. Rather, it allowed her to return to her roots as a live performer instead of remaining on the pop-star trajectory (“you have to be a good girl for that”). In cathartic sections, O’Connor considers the era leading up to that appearance as a personal death, with the years following a kind of “rebirth.” Though she touches on her agoraphobia and later psychological issues, with which many of her fans will be familiar, the final third of the memoir sputters somewhat, growing less revelatory than earlier passages.

A self-aware confessional from a successful and controversial musician.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-42388-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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