A stirring story of survival against a beastly adversary.



A debut historical novel follows the dangerous exploits of the Jewish Resistance during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

In 1937, everyone in Poland anxiously discusses the possibility of a Nazi invasion, especially Jewish citizens all too aware of Hitler’s savage anti-Semitism. The Biebersteins are a prominent family—affluent and influential—but that fails to spare them from the increasingly open hostility toward Jews. Only a young boy, Cass Bieberstein fears for the future, a concern only exacerbated by his Uncle Bernie’s decision to immigrate to the United States in advance of what he thinks is an inevitable act of aggression by Germany. Eventually, the Nazis arrive, and the Biebersteins are exiled from their own home. Cass’ father, Sigmund, is persuaded to flee Poland because it’s well-known that he helped Jews escape Germany and will be executed by the Nazis if found. Cass falls madly in love with his friend Zofia Wagner, but her father collaborates with the Nazis and becomes infatuated with their hateful ideology, sending his daughter to a youth camp for indoctrination. Repulsed by Hitler’s grotesque theories of racial superiority, she runs away from home to be with Cass but is kidnapped and murdered by Nazi soldiers, a horrid act chillingly described by Duke. Inconsolably distraught, Cass vows to avenge her death and becomes a freedom fighter, ultimately joining the Jewish Resistance group Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa. The author also follows the plight of two sisters, Sarah and Rachel Goldstein, friends of the Biebersteins, who are arrested and sent to the Treblinka concentration camp. In Duke’s tale (written with Biebers), the prose is plain and undecorated by poetical embellishment but powerful as a result of its straightforwardness. For example, the descriptions of the conditions of Treblinka are unflinchingly vivid but absent any cloying dramatization. While a novel, the plot is based on the real-life experiences of Casimir Bieberstein, whom Duke was able to interview at great length; Biebers is Casimir’s son. The extraordinary wealth of narrative details and their historical authenticity are both luminous testaments to the rigor of Duke’s research.

A stirring story of survival against a beastly adversary.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-2667-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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.


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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