Cleareyed and courageously revealing.

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TOMLINSON HILL

THE REMARKABLE STORY OF TWO FAMILIES WHO SHARE THE TOMLINSON NAME - ONE WHITE, ONE BLACK

A foreign correspondent examines the intertwining histories of two Tomlinson families—one white, the other black—who shared a common past spent on a Texas slave plantation.

After spending more than a decade covering wars in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan, Texas native Tomlinson returned to the United States with his consciousness of man’s inhumanity to man permanently raised. Determined to expose the way his family past was implicated in the problematic history of racial relations in America, Tomlinson began by probing an alleged connection to former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The author learned that both he and LaDainian had descended from families that had lived on a plantation called Tomlinson Hill. Scouring family papers, archival documents, area history books and the Internet, Tomlinson pieced together the stories of the two families. Starting in the years preceding the Civil War, his ancestors established Tomlinson Hill and began keeping slaves who would eventually take the family name. Later mythologies about the South would transform all slave owners, including the Tomlinsons, into symbols of graciousness and gentility. At the same time, they erased one essential truth: that violence and injustice toward blacks was a fact of life on all plantations. This attitude persisted into the 20th century, becoming embedded in the ideology of the Ku Klux Klan, which claimed to celebrate the “heroic” values of the Old South and managed to draw members of Tomlinson’s own family into the Klan’s ranks during the 1920s. Even after the civil rights movement, the supposedly enlightened teachers in the Dallas county schools Tomlinson attended “walked a careful line in teaching about race, holding no one responsible for the sins of the past.” The author offers not only a detailed history of two families brought together by circumstances greater than themselves; he also opens an honest conversation necessary to begin healing the centuries-old racial rifts that have marred American history.

Cleareyed and courageously revealing.

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-00547-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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.

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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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