At turns harrowing and inspiring; also serves as a valuable piece of education on recovery from brain injury.

READ REVIEW

BUT MY BRAIN HAD OTHER IDEAS

A MEMOIR OF RECOVERY FROM BRAIN INJURY

Brandon’s debut memoir details her experiences with her “bloody brain,” from stays in the intensive care unit to a turbulent life after surgery.

In 2007, Brandon worked as a math professor at Carnegie Mellon, well respected among students and colleagues. After experiencing strange symptoms—bouts of confusion and numbness—doctors discovered cavernous angiomas in Brandon’s brain and brain stem. These angiomas, described as “malformed blood vessels in [the] brain,” cause severe problems when they bleed. After initial treatment, Brandon’s doctors believed that she was out of danger. Within six months, however, the bleeds came back. She experienced multiple seizures and frequent bouts of confusion. Brandon decided to have a risky set of surgeries to remove the angiomas. The surgery was successful, but its invasive nature forced Brandon into extensive rehab. Recovery from brain injury doesn’t occur linearly, though, and Brandon dealt with myriad mental and physical issues, including re-establishing her balance and retraining herself to read. Once out of rehab, Brandon found support from friends and family. Not everyone initially understood her situation, however, often carelessly adding to her discomfort. Brandon ably describes her episodes, and the reader feels transported into her mind when, for instance, she has a “shutdown,” her brain momentarily shutting down after an overflow of sensory input, “settling into...a protective cocoon.” These moments succeed in making readers understand Brandon’s plight, her frustrations, and, eventually, her triumphs. The memoir follows a chronological timeline, but there are also chapters that focus on small experiences, interruptions not unlike the stop-and-start nature of her recovery. In the end, Brandon doesn’t sugarcoat her account. Despite her eventual return to teaching, the reader ultimately knows there will be more to overcome.

At turns harrowing and inspiring; also serves as a valuable piece of education on recovery from brain injury.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-246-8

Page Count: 220

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

Did you like this book?

more