An inspiring life story of unvanquished resilience.




An educator and scholar recounts her journey from war-torn China to a new life in Taiwan.

Born in 1924, Chi (Emerita, English/National Taiwan Univ.; The Last of the Whampoa Breed: Stories of the Chinese Diaspora, 2003, etc.) grew up in Manchuria, where her father was a prominent member of the anti-Japanese resistance. Her richly detailed memoir palpably conveys the violence and fears that marked her youth. Japan’s bellicose incursions into China resulted in “relentless and violent bombings,” and her family repeatedly was on the move. By the time she was 13, she admits, she was filled with ardent patriotic fervor and anger. Life in China was precarious: Students and teachers at the Sun Yat-sen Middle School, founded by her father, were forced to change locations frequently, during which the boys lived in caves and the girls in thatch shacks, while her father desperately tried to find a place—indoors or outdoors—to hold classes. Chi’s modest, serene prose belies the many physical and emotional hardships of her youth. “Every day the sun would rise as usual,” she writes, “but in the sunshine survival was a luxury.” Education sustained her, especially literature, which helped to foster her “fiercely unconquerable spirit.” In 1947, Chi left China, where “the whole country was caught up in a political whirlpool” between left and right. With a literature degree, she took a position as a teaching assistant at National Taiwan University and began an illustrious career as an educator, translator, and scholar, which included winning two Fulbright fellowships to teach and study in the United States; guest teaching positions in Hong Kong, the U.S., and Berlin; appointment to the National Institute of Compilation and Translation, where she made contemporary works of Chinese literature available globally and oversaw the compilation of new Chinese textbooks that excluded propaganda. Through her teaching, writing, and presentations, she helped to define Taiwan as “a free and democratic nation, preserving a high degree of Chinese culture, while pursuing peace and prosperity.”

An inspiring life story of unvanquished resilience.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-231-18840-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?