A short but telling reminder to live life well and leave heartfelt memories.

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JUST DANCE

In this debut memoir, a doctor and devoted aunt commemorates her nephew and recounts his battle against leukemia.

Patel’s nephew Rakesh was an American Hindu of Indian descent. He was studying business communication and technology at the University of Houston when, in December 2011, he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. He fought the cancer throughout 2012 and into 2013; then, while in remission, he completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 2014, inspired by the physician assistants who helped him through his treatment, Rakesh began studying to become one himself. But the cancer returned, and in December 2014, he died. He was 23 years old. Throughout his short life—and particularly during the ordeal of his illness—Rakesh impressed those around him with his positive outlook and regard for others. Like many cancer sufferers, he chose to remain upbeat. Even while in the hospital, he continued to mentor his university dance team. While he was very ill in October 2014, his determination and love for his family saw him attend his brother’s wedding, both driving the groom to the ceremony and delivering the best man’s speech. Rakesh even took heart from his cancer’s acronym and turned it into reassurance for others, tweeting: “ALL is well, lol.” Unsurprisingly, Patel writes from a very personal place, sharing memories of Rakesh and her own emotional responses to his triumphs, setbacks, and everyday endurance. As a doctor at a neonatal intensive care unit, she is well-placed to understand the medical procedures, yet the sanguine memoir doesn’t stray too far into this territory. For the most part, it chronicles the impact that Rakesh had on those around him. (The letters to Rakesh from his young nieces after his death are especially moving.) The author does not always make allowances for readers unfamiliar with Rakesh or with Indian and Hindu culture. Some of the references are therefore disorienting, yet not in a negative way. The wider effect is that Rakesh, with his loving friends and family, brings his culture and beliefs closer to those who may not share them. This seems a fitting legacy for a young man whose counsel to others was: “Don’t worry about anything. Just dance.”

A short but telling reminder to live life well and leave heartfelt memories.

Pub Date: June 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4907-8949-1

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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