A deeply personal memoir that will likely cheer those suffering from chronic illnesses.

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING

In this debut memoir, Irish surveyor Devine recounts his struggle to come to terms with multiple sclerosis.

During the author’s honeymoon in 2006, a doctor diagnosed a tingling sensation in Devine’s arm as stress-related. The misdiagnoses continued for a year after he experienced his initial symptoms, during which the author even became desperate enough to consult a faith healer. When a doctor finally told him that that he had multiple sclerosis and put him on a drug regime, Devine was so distraught that he "felt at times that [he] had joined the living dead". Two years later, he attended a talk by a Scottish “motivational business guru,” and his attitude changed: “Maybe if I approached my own situation in a positive manner, things might improve just a little.” Devine’s aim to “develop talents and potential” inspired him to make drastic changes in his life: He went to a gym, started his own business, looked for inspiration in other people—such as Helen Keller and a partially paralyzed friend—and even ran a marathon. The author also describes the four distinct types of the disease and about 50 of its symptoms, which, along with MS’ generally unpredictable remissions and exacerbations, often present doctors with a diagnostic puzzle. Toward the end of this memoir, Devine expounds on the things that have particularly helped him: medication, diet and exercise, and “positive mental attitude.” Devine’s messages may seem mixed at times; for example, he asserts that with “the right attitude...it is possible to reverse your symptoms and win the battle,” yet mentions a few pages later that while he generally feels better, he’s “still experiencing daily symptoms.” However, many readers will likely admire the author’s courage and determination. His style is unpretentious and easy to read, sprinkled with Irish-isms (such as “flipping heck”) that will charm American readers.

A deeply personal memoir that will likely cheer those suffering from chronic illnesses. 

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1478228523

Page Count: 122

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2013

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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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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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