An often lighthearted but also profound recounting of a life in search of art and faith.

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The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told

A memoir charting an artist’s lifelong challenge to accept his calling.

Eberhart was raised by a famous poet, Richard Eberhart, and surrounded in his youth by accomplished writers: e.e. cummings, Alan Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and an impressive cast of others. In this often bemusing recounting of an unconventional upbringing, Eberhart describes a family that quietly, even unselfconsciously, displayed its own brand of eccentricity. His mother once met Hitler—a story he used to impress his childhood friends—and his great grandfather invented floor wax, which Eberhart’s father sold for a time. Despite the high jinks, such an artistically sensitive environment could be frustrating for a young adolescent looking for something to rebel against. “ ‘I am at war with you!’ I shouted. ‘At war!’ What Dad did about my shattering fury was to be Dad. ‘Ah, youth,’ he glowed the next day and patted me on the back. ‘What energy! What purity of emotion! What muscles! Hurrah!’ This made it worse.” The author struggled to accept his magnetic attraction to pursuing art as his life’s work—a calling that was like family inheritance. He pursued theater before finally realizing that writing was the medium that most deeply inspired him. The book is a hybrid of dynamic parts; sometimes, Eberhart will digress to treat readers to a literary analysis of a famous poem (Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Travelled” is a memorable instance) or to discuss the psychology behind an artist’s work. For example, he furnishes a provocative but breezily anecdotal account of the way family friend T.S. Eliot’s work was both elevated and limited by his traditionalism. The extraordinary arc of Eberhart’s maturation—and coming to terms with his father’s legacy—culminates in a religious conversion. After years of mining Judaism for spiritual succor, the author, along with his second wife, finally found peace of mind in Christianity. He explains with philosophical subtlety the ways in which submitting to one father, God himself, helped him reconcile with another, his poet dad. The path he took was a meandering one, like an epic poem.

An often lighthearted but also profound recounting of a life in search of art and faith.

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1414399843

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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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 eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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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

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