This Christian self-help book won’t reach a broad audience, but fellow travelers will find consolation in its message.

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Expect the Miraculous

A TRUE LIFE STORY OF THE EXTRAORDINARY POWER OF GOD

A meditation on the healing power of miracles, and on having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Both the religious and therapeutic communities share the concept of personal healing as an antidote to trauma, but the two traditions rarely coexist harmoniously. Romeo (Traveling with the Life-Giver, 2012, etc.), a licensed marriage and family therapist, effectively tries to weave them into a common fabric in a work that’s both a memoir and a spiritually charged self-improvement manual. She candidly discusses her troubled past, which included her parents’ divorce, her volatile marriage, and her struggles with alcohol dependency and depression. The book’s central focus is twofold as it looks at the transformative power of divine miracles and the therapeutic value of forging a connection with Jesus. The miracles that Romeo says she encountered are numerous and extraordinary: she writes that a pastor instantaneously fixed her uneven legs, much to the astonishment of her chiropractor, and that another pastor made gold teeth suddenly appear in the mouths of his flock. She also writes that after her children discovered that one of their beloved pet fish had died, she resurrected it through touch; at another point, she says that she was plagued by demonic voices and distress, but that she had them successfully exorcised. Her most poignant remembrances revolve around spiritual metamorphoses, such as her husband’s: after turning to God, she says, he quit drinking and managed to find inner peace. Romeo doesn’t describe her trust in Jesus in theological terms, but in those of loving friendship: “I am deeply convinced that Jesus wants us to experience Him.” Eventually, she came to realize that she suffered from dissociative identity disorder; armed with that knowledge and her newfound relationship with Jesus, she turned her life around, and even weathered the death of her husband. The author is admirably forthcoming about her personal challenges, and it’s impossible not to be inspired by the progress she achieved. Given the emphasis on miracles, though, her book is unlikely to appeal to secular or even merely moderately religious readers. Many will wish that she’d furnished more actionable, nonreligious counsel, and that she had written more as a therapist than as a spiritual disciple. However, this book remains an affecting source of encouragement for those who share the author’s theological inclinations.

This Christian self-help book won’t reach a broad audience, but fellow travelers will find consolation in its message.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2016

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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