Recommended as a top-tier psychological self-help manual that cogently systematizes the benefits of compassion and empathy.



This self-help manual teaches the basics of behavioral change through a careful, compassionate program based on being fully present when interacting with others.

Drawing upon her extensive experience in nursing, hospital administration and health-care practice, Donadio presents a practical manual illustrating how to change one’s behavior through a system she calls “Behavioral Engagement.” For all relationships, central to this method is “pure presence”—a state of being fully present when communicating with others, while dropping any preconceived notions of how the other person should or will act. Pure presence helps the participant utilize a nonjudgmental connection based on positive, empathetic emotions, shifting away from anxiety associated with compulsive and destructive behaviors. Among the techniques Donadio offers her readers are the maintenance of soft eye-focus during social interactions, listening to others with receptive patience and respecting patches of silence during conversations. Conveying to others how much you respect their self-directed decision-making process is one of several noteworthy, often overlooked practices. By employing these skills through the step-by-step instructions in each chapter—accompanied by questions that prompt critical self-reflection—Donadio believes readers can alter behavior in order to benefit from integrating various emotions and actions in a new light. Several studies (some referenced in the book’s footnotes) support her conclusion that this system of Behavioral Engagement can create sustainable behavioral change. Written in a simple, convincing style familiar to followers of pop psychology—though without the shallow oversimplifications rampant in much of that genre—Donadio presents a solid if not strikingly original case for the transformative power of receptiveness as she capably synthesizes principles drawn from diverse sources, such as Carl Rogers and Buddhist meditation. The sole weakness of her book is the familiar, persistent depiction of America’s burgeoning health problems that she believes, optimistically, Behavior Engagement can help overcome. Much of the text portrays those circumstances, although deeper descriptions of her therapeutic method would have been welcomed instead. Nonetheless, a few graphs and colorful cubist illustrations help break up the black, white and sometimes gray areas in the study of human interaction.

Recommended as a top-tier psychological self-help manual that cogently systematizes the benefits of compassion and empathy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983965992

Page Count: 142

Publisher: NIWH

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2012

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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