This work movingly renders the complex emotional landscape of living in and out of the closet.




A gay woman recounts her experiences during the 1960s and onward in this debut memoir.

Anderson was raised in a working-class Detroit neighborhood by loving, practical, and devoutly Baptist parents. As a teenager, she was shocked to realize she felt an attraction to her worldlier friend Gina. The concept of gay rights didn’t exist in Anderson’s world, and she dreaded the label “lesbian.” Determined to be “normal,” she pursued relationships with men in college. Yet she developed another crush on a female friend, Nicky. Nicky reciprocated, and the two began a relationship that appeared platonic (at first) to outsiders, including Anderson’s boyfriend. A dorm room confrontation showed Anderson that her “friendship” was raising eyebrows, and the two drifted apart. As sexual liberation swept the nation, Anderson befriended other gay women and enjoyed tentative self-acceptance. Yet she continued to hide her true identity from her parents. She eventually met Linda, a woman in an open marriage, and what started as a fling became something more. After Linda left her husband, Anderson wrestled with a new role: parental figure to her lover’s daughters. Anderson regretted never coming out to her father before his sudden death. Determined to not repeat her mistake, she wrestled with how to tell her mother about Linda. As the years progressed, Anderson’s romantic, family, and professional lives continued to shift as American attitudes about homosexuality changed and homophobia lessened but didn’t disappear. The author writes compellingly about the burden of the closet—not only the threat of physical violence and social censure, but the constant emotional labor required to hide her full identity, first just from herself, then from loved ones and the outside world. She writes stirringly, too, about the genuine love between her and her parents and about the ecstasy and terror accompanying sexual awakening (“I seemed to be going through a kind of gay adolescence, discovering myself attractive on multiple levels to the women around me.…So hungry for physical connection after years of stuffing away my emotional and sexual feelings for women, it was like unleashing a spring-loaded can of confetti”). She skillfully executes emotionally weighty scenes, such as coming out to her mother, though some readers might crave a few more full episodes capturing the rhythms of daily life to balance out the psychological introspection.

This work movingly renders the complex emotional landscape of living in and out of the closet. 

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-314-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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