A potential source of comfort for those who’ve recently lost a loved one.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

A HEARTFELT GUIDE TO GRIEF, HEALING, AND HOPE

This guide to grieving, based on debut author Augenthaler’s own experience of becoming a young widow, aims to give readers hope for their future.

The author’s 45-year-old husband, Jim, unexpectedly died in her arms of an aortic aneurysm, and her journey through grief inspired her to leave a career in the financial industry to become a psychotherapist. This guide is designed for readers who’ve lost loved ones, and it will particularly appeal to those who’ve lost a spouse. Augenthaler begins each chapter with an epigraph from a well-known poet, such as Rumi or Edna St. Vincent Millay, followed by a personal essay recounting a moment during her own grieving experience. She follows each memoir portion with an explanation of the healing process reflected in the anecdote. At one point, she tells of having unusual premonitions before Jim’s death, and she says that this is a common occurrence, especially in the case of sudden deaths. There are complete poems, including some by the author, interspersed throughout that also deal with mourning. An appendix for readers who want to help others includes essential advice on what to say to someone who’s just experienced loss, as well as how to offer assistance in a way that isn’t intrusive or inappropriate. Although grief-related memoirs are common, what sets this one apart is the inclusion of explanations for very specific aspects of the grieving process; for example, the author writes that it’s common to remember the moment that a loved one dies with crystal clarity, but also to forget many details from days or weeks immediately afterward. Some passages, such as an explanation of anxiety and panic attacks, lack citations, which would have been helpful for readers who might want to do further research.

A potential source of comfort for those who’ve recently lost a loved one.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73202-330-7

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Everystep Publications

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2019

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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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These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

BRAVE ENOUGH

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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