A heartbreaking yet hopeful book about the tragedies that bring people together, recommended for readers dealing with the...


What Now!


A debut memoir that depicts the journey of a woman fighting for her husband’s life after he was hospitalized for an aggressive brain tumor.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2008, Vinje was thrown into a state of shock after she got a phone call while waiting in line at the grocery store. Her mother-in-law told her that her husband, Tom, had been in a car accident and had wandered away from the scene. The author returned home to find Tom chatting casually with their neighbors as if nothing much had happened. But the next morning, he was difficult to wake; later, he wouldn’t leave the couch and was throwing up bile. Vinje and her mother-in-law decided to take him to the hospital, where he was quickly put into intensive care and given a CT scan. But what they and the doctors thought were symptoms of a concussion were actually symptoms of an aggressive brain tumor. Over the next seven months, Vinje, the couple’s family members, and an enormous number of their friends and neighbors convened with love and prayer on a blog called The CaringBridge to try to bring hope to the devastating situation. Although Vinje did everything in her power to bring her husband back to health, she was forced to slowly accept the reality of the situation and face her worst nightmares. This gripping book tackles the heavy subject matter of watching a spouse deteriorate due to terminal cancer. Although it’s a common theme for memoirs, Vinje’s stands out because of its unusual narrative structure: it’s almost entirely composed of journal entries from her perspective and from those of many other people who loved Tom. These entries, written on The CaringBridge as Tom was struggling in the hospital and then after his death, speak with immediacy—particularly in earlier entries, as they express heart-wrenching hope that he will survive. It’s hard to read in parts, knowing that Tom will succumb to his illness, and the infallible optimism begins to read as an unwillingness to accept the grave situation. However, the memoir offers hope in showing how Vinje created a community of grieving, healing, and remembrance, sticking to her mantra that “Bad things happen fast; good things take time.”

A heartbreaking yet hopeful book about the tragedies that bring people together, recommended for readers dealing with the loss of a spouse or other loved one.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-5038-9

Page Count: 446

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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