An impassioned call to action and a vulnerable family portrait of neurodiversity.

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OUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE

SCENES OF A FAMILY AND A PLANET IN CRISIS

A collective portrait of activist Greta Thunberg's family, encompassing not only climate change, but also issues of mental health.

In this moving text, Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman, her husband, Svante Thunberg, and their daughters, Greta and Beata, stitch together vignettes about "burned-out people on a burned out planet.” Before Greta stepped into the public eye with her 2018 strike outside the Swedish Parliament, she had fallen into depression. Ernman details the end of her music career, when Greta refused to eat or speak. Through distilled recollections, she elucidates how autism and selective mutism unfolded in her household, with all its initial hardship, and how Swedish society views spectrum disorders in general. When Greta was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s and OCD, and Beata with ADHD and other conditions, the family found a measure of solace. But they still struggled: “We scream. We kick down doors. We scratch. We pound walls. We wrestle. We cry. We ask for help and we somehow endure.” The narrative delivers a potent, challenging, and heartening portrayal of a family's struggle to hold it all together. The text is more problematic when it conflates environmental issues—such as sustainability and the climate crisis—with mental health problems, positing that society’s prioritization of economy over ecology has led to increasing isolation and desperation. While provocative, the argument feels grounded in simplified conviction. Passages about carbon emissions, damage wrought by air travel, the failure of world leaders to take charge, and related issues are unabashedly alarmist and valuable. Because these elements echo Greta's many speeches, they come off as repetitive in the book. The buildup to Greta's strike—and the strike itself—is an inspiring depiction of the teen who has become a leader on the world stage and of the family who supports her behind the scenes. It also represents a courageous triumph over many of her demons.

An impassioned call to action and a vulnerable family portrait of neurodiversity.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-14-313357-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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