Fearless, enduring story of human fragility and strength.

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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A RECOVERING SKINHEAD

Intensely raw memoir of a reformed Neo-Nazi.

Meeink spent most of his childhood being knocked around in South Philly by his stepfather and running from gangs between his bus stop and his grade school. By age 20, the author was the leader of Strike Force, a local chapter of the Aryan Nation. “I felt the rage boiling inside me until I thought I was going to puke or scream or die…We are footsoldiers in God’s army. Right. Left. We are the enforcers of God’s law. Right. Left. Our race is our fucking religion,” he writes. He had already had his own cable-access show, escaped from a mental institution, been to prison and attempted suicide on more than one occasion. Since skinheads associate drug use—not including alcohol—with minorities, Meeink was vehemently opposed to using drugs. However, as soon as he left the “movement,” without the Neo-Nazi ethos and peer pressure to keep him in check, Meeink floundered into a daily drug habit, supplied at first by his addled mother. He is now a recovering skinhead and a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. His debut is a boot-stamping march through desperation, hate, violence and salvation, covering his rise to skinhead stardom and his eventual recovery from his destructive vices. Since 1995, the author has been teaching children and young adults about the consequences of conformity and the regrets of a misspent youth. He runs Harmony through Hockey, a community-outreach program endorsed by the Philadelphia Flyers that teaches children the values of unity and equality. It is through his organization that Meeink’s gentler side takes over, demonstrating how much a strong will can be misdirected with hatred and how difficult it can be to redirect it with love. Indelicate and harsh, but never preachy or whiny, this is an intimate, uncompromising memoir. Though it hits some predictable notes—mostly because of Edward Norton’s familiar character in American History X—it speaks forcefully from experience.

Fearless, enduring story of human fragility and strength.

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-9790188-2-4

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Hawthorne Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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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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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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