Several exquisitely told tales that will touch even the most hard-nosed readers.


A debut memoir by a former professor that doesn’t gloss over painful moments in her life.

Roberts begins by recounting the challenges she faced when she lost and regained her vision—not once, but twice, due to corneal edema and transplants. But as remarkable as those struggles are, they’re not the book’s focus; instead, as suggested by the title, they’re merely the source of a metaphor that ties her story together. There’s so much more about her life to be found in this volume, which mostly consists of prose, alongside a few poems, as well as a one-act play. Italicized text before each section provides helpful background information and effectively communicates its themes. After the introduction, the author turns back the clock to reveal what she sees as the miraculous circumstances surrounding her own adoption at the age of 6 months. She writes wistfully of a childhood marked by the death of her mother, a problematic relationship with her stepmother, and her own serious health issues. She connects these darker themes to her continual self-questioning even in the face of later success as a communications professor at Ohio Northern University. Regarding her anxiety over a play she produced, for example, she writes: “The doubt was, and still is, there like an anvil I think I will drag forever.” Over the course of her career, which she calculates involved “listening to 63,820 presentations over thirty-six years,” she recalls notable achievements with competitive speech teams as well as “Readers Theater” productions. She also includes absolutely lovely moments with her paternal grandparents, her dissertation adviser, and a lifelong friend from her days in a Catholic boarding school, in a chapter titled “The Book of Cecilia.” There are also moving tributes to a lamb named Soda Pop, a donkey named Skeeter, and a cat named Pipkin. Her “Letters to Pipkin,” written after the death of her companion of 19 years, are sure to affect anyone who has ever lost a pet.

Several exquisitely told tales that will touch even the most hard-nosed readers.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4582-1896-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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