A beautiful, richly panoramic book that should reassure caregivers and delight memoir readers.




A widow details her husband’s final years—when he was in a nursing home—but also presents a sweeping view of their four decades together.

Munat first met Chuck in Chicago in 1968. He was a 34-year-old high school English instructor and father of three, soon to be divorced; the author was a 21-year-old college senior and his practice teacher at the time. “The first thing I loved about him was his bravery,” she recalls, opening with a powerful vignette of Chuck negotiating between riot police and students protesting poor conditions in black schools. Munat would need to channel that courage when Chuck’s health went downhill rapidly in 2003 following a small stroke. After three weeks in rehab, he came home, but Munat couldn’t cope with his incontinence and falls. Back he went to St. Thomas nursing home, where he remained until his death in 2009. A diagnosis of Lewy body dementia explained Chuck’s shuffling gait and occasional disorientation. LBD is characterized by “fluctuating cognition,” and the book gives vivid examples of Chuck’s “Downtime” versus “Showtime” behavior. The narrative fluidly shifts between sections about the daily challenges of caregiving and flashbacks to the couple’s earlier life together, including confronting career changes, forming a blended family, hosting exchange students, and moving to Bainbridge Island, Washington. Re-created dialogue is excellent throughout. Excerpts from journals and family newsletters enrich the text, as do frequent photographs and inventive chapter titles (“It All Began with a Pink Wastebasket”). Munat provides a clear sense of marriage as an ongoing passage, along with chronicling her separate caregiving journey: leaving their home for a condo and drawing strength from family, a “Circle Babes” support group, and short vacations. Visiting Chuck nearly every day for six years was a drain but also a labor of love. “Illness could not take away what we’d always had: an abiding love and respect for each other,” she writes. “And that kind of love does not come to an end.”

A beautiful, richly panoramic book that should reassure caregivers and delight memoir readers.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 241

Publisher: Fantail Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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