An inspiring story of beating the odds.

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WILSON'S WAY

: WIN DON'T WHINE

A motivational autobiography of the nation’s first African-American dean of a major medical school.

Wilson’s life traces a remarkable arc. Born in Massachusetts in 1936 to a father who fled South Carolina to escape a lynching, the author had many hurdles in front of him from the beginning. However, the successful life he subsequently carved out with determination, hard work and honesty proves that a strong sense of self can launch a person beyond limitations. Except for the final two chapters, with their neatly packaged lessons in leadership, this book consists of a straightforward account of Wilson’s life, from birth to retirement. From the age of nine, after a visit from a local physician to treat his terrible case of pneumonia, Wilson knew that he wanted to be a doctor. Forget that this was 1945 and long before the civil-rights movement; ignore the fact that a few years later his elementary school principal would think it more appropriate for him to attend the local trade school rather than the college-preparatory high school. Wilson knew what he wanted to do and had the intelligence and tenacity to go after it. After college at Harvard, where he was one of only nine African-American students on campus, Wilson landed at Tufts University Medical School in 1958, at a time when minorities made up about two percent of the medical-school student population nationwide. Wilson was forced to blaze his own trail, a fact magnified by the fact that there were no African-American faculty or professionals in the school to serve as role models or mentors. The book includes poignant moments in the author’s life: providing medical care to the very same people who would not rent a house to him because of his race; developing his reputation as a leading researcher in New York; and becoming the first African-American Chief of Gastroenterology at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago. Through it all, Wilson faced discrimination from those who could not imagine an African-American man as the dean of a major medical school, no matter how stellar his qualifications. Nevertheless, Wilson became the dean of the University of Maryland medical school in 1991 and overhauled its direction, culture and curriculum before retiring 15 years later. This autobiography is heavy on the literal details of his accomplishments and less fulfilling in terms of providing lessons for the reader to take away from his experiences. Still, it exemplifies how strong focus and resolve can bring what seems impossible within grasp.

An inspiring story of beating the odds.

Pub Date: May 21, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4392-2268-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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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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