A coming-of-age drama captured through poetic prose and convincing honesty.

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GODSPEED

A MEMOIR

A modeling industry trailblazer and former Olympic swimmer recounts her troubled girlhood.

In her debut, Legler passionately relives her years in Europe and stateside. She was born to expatriate American parents who, despite a disintegrating marriage, struggled to raise her and her siblings. Restless and lonely, the uncommonly tall girl found solace and purpose in swimming. She quickly developed great skill and dexterity, which positioned her for greatness as her strength and determination grew with regular training sessions. The author swam competitively in her early teens as she navigated simmering hormones, smitten boys, and the abusive, predatory physician treating her scoliosis. Legler’s lyrically descriptive prose glides across childhood anecdotes of her first swimming attempt as well as awkward sexual interludes as she strained to discover her identity and a place of her own among her classmates. She shows the precarious balancing act that ensued between her rigorous training sessions at the pool and the soft-core rebellion of teenage life and the struggle to fit in: “I have a swim meet the next day but I’ll get drunk anyway so that I can crawl on the couch with the rest of them. And I do. And it feels good. And I am beautiful.” The author also began to embrace the first sparks of attraction to other girls while exploring her desires with men. Then she shifted her focus to qualifying for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. She intricately describes every nuance of the competitive experience alongside her personal self-discovery and experimentation with sex, alcohol, and procuring drugs for her fellow teammates. Legler decorates each of her adventures with urgency and lively, only occasionally strained poetic expression. Readers familiar with the author know she has grown past the dark days described in this memoir to become a unique fashion model, social justice activist, and successful entrepreneur. This focused attention on her youthful turmoil represents a significant need for blissful catharsis.

A coming-of-age drama captured through poetic prose and convincing honesty.

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3575-0

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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