Caregivers may find solace in Sykes’ poignant memories.

Tapestry of Love


Sykes’ debut memoir tells of the seven years she spent caring for her ailing, elderly mother.

The author was catapulted into the role of caregiver when her vibrant mother suffered macular degeneration, which eventually led to blindness. Sykes’ role became even more difficult when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, her mother had to cope with permanently leaving her sister in Florida—as well as the independence of her own condo—to live in much smaller institutional spaces near Sykes’ Massachusetts home. As the author became an advocate for her mother’s care, the two lost the carefree mother-daughter relationship they once had. Still, Sykes was determined to enjoy some aspects of their changing roles, and she ultimately learned to feel privileged to be her mother’s caregiver. There are some horror stories here; in one facility, for example, the author’s mother was physically and emotionally abused. However, Sykes also offers many uplifting moments; on her mother’s 90th birthday, for example, she was able to hold her first great-grandchild. Later, Sykes fulfills her mother’s dying request for a day at the beach, resulting in a beautiful mother-daughter memory. Readers shouldn’t expect a step-by-step elder-care guide or in-depth discussions of legal terms in this gentle narrative. However, there are some useful bits of information about nursing-home residents, such as their need for structured routine; for example, when Sykes hired companions to alleviate her mother’s loneliness, it turned out to be too stressful to have so many new people coming and going. Sykes also offers some worthwhile questions to ask when considering an elder-care facility, such as whether the institution has a physical therapy room and therapists on staff. The book also contains an exhaustive list of quotes and affirmations, including these words that Sykes spoke to her mother: “You have spent a lifetime giving to others. This is the time in your life to celebrate receiving from others.

Caregivers may find solace in Sykes’ poignant memories.

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494224486

Page Count: 184

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 3, 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 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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