Laced with love, family dramas, recipes, and the pangs of growing up, Lerman’s memoir is a satisfying treat.

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MY FAT DAD

A MEMOIR OF FOOD, LOVE, AND FAMILY, WITH RECIPES

Nutrition expert and New York Times Well Blog contributor Lerman pens an intimate memoir about the intersections of intense family relationships and food, dieting, and healthy eating.

As a child, the author’s relationships with her overweight father and distant mother were difficult. Eventually, she realized that her father’s ravenous appetite—he often consumed 8,000 calories per day—was a disease he couldn’t control. Lerman’s mother, a frustrated actress, had no desire to be saddled with housewifely tasks. The author’s grandmother Beauty, however, showered her with love and attention and lots of home-cooked meals. “In her arms,” writes Lerman, “I was never hungry for food, love, or affection. She was my mentor and my savior—saving my life, spoonful by spoonful.” The author tracks her emotional and culinary life as the family moved from Chicago to New York as well as the transition in her relationship with her father when her younger sister’s burgeoning acting career took off. Lerman also chronicles her parents’ divorce, her teenage years, and her father’s bout with cancer. Always entranced by health-food stores, the author began developing a healthy eating regime for her father, who, always trying one extreme diet after another, was fighting for his health. He eliminated dairy, meat, alcohol, and caffeine, and he began making “anti-cancer soup with shiitake, portabella and maitake mushrooms.” He also stocked up on fresh vegetables, blue-green algae, and fermented foods. Throughout the book, Lerman links food to physical and emotional well-being—e.g., a meal of white fish and steamed leeks topped with lemon slices was “calming and almost euphoric.” During an encounter with a guest who offered Lerman a piece of macrobiotic apple pie while espousing a vegetarian lifestyle, the author’s mind opened up to new ways of living and eating, and she relates them smoothly to readers.

Laced with love, family dramas, recipes, and the pangs of growing up, Lerman’s memoir is a satisfying treat.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-425-27223-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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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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