Funny, touching essays on being a multifaceted woman with unique dreams, desires, and needs.

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ADVENTURES IN CARING TOO MUCH

A TV and radio host acknowledges her need to be liked and tells how she’s worked hard to overcome this.

Comedian and journalist Salie wittily lays bare the highs and lows of her life (so far) and explains how much of what she’s done has been because she’s “an approval junkie.” When she told people the title of this book, some immediately understood what she was trying to do, while others looked at her askance. “At which point,” she writes, “I put down the cake I was frosting for them while simultaneously breastfeeding my daughter and doing squats and explained that I’m not ashamed about wanting approval. It kept my high school GPA very high. It’s kept my BMI somewhat low. It’s kept me on my toes when I wasn’t already wearing heels to elongate my legs.” Salie tells readers about falling in and out of love with her “wasband,” the struggles she’s had over the years with her weight, losing her virginity and telling her mother about it the next day, receiving hand job instructions from her gay brother, and a host of other intimate details about her personal life. The author talks about her mother’s illness and death, her difficulty in conceiving children as an older woman and the fertility treatments she endured, her various jobs on TV and radio, and falling in love with her new husband. Salie uses humor throughout her short essays, particularly in the beginning. As the book progresses, the moments she discusses are more tender than humorous, allowing readers a closer perspective on the author’s life. Salie’s children also make appearances in short narratives about miscarriages, the desire for a girl, and breast-feeding and breast pumps. She concludes with a sweet letter to her daughter, in which she urges her to “care a lot about winning your own approval—enough to stretch, appreciate, and occasionally embarrass yourself.”

Funny, touching essays on being a multifaceted woman with unique dreams, desires, and needs.

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-41993-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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