An engaging, if rough-hewn, memoir of escape from domestic abuse in Sweden.



The compelling memoir of a young Swedish woman’s journey from a neglected childhood to an abusive marriage and eventually to freedom from violence in the United States.

For 15 years, Bonde lived in fear of the man she had loved and married, whom she had met at a mall in Gothenburg when she was 15. Wisely starting her story with their first meeting, Bonde then backtracks to her childhood outside Gothenburg in the 1970s. Overlooked by parents who were distracted by their own divorce, embarrassed by her father’s renown as the first man to bring strip clubs to Sweden, and raped at 13 by an associate of her father’s, Bonde found refuge among the gentle druggies at the local mall. When she met 16-year-old Jared, she thought she’d found true love. But their meeting drew her into a cycle of abuse and violence that took more than a decade to escape. Bringing readers step by step through the stages of abuse—from Jared’s initial tenderness to his intense jealousy, his abrupt violence and remorse, his increasingly dangerous threats and his eventual imprisonment of her—Bonde portrays the psychology that inclines victims of violence to stay. Short chapters with descriptive subtitles keep the story moving forward, despite the somewhat cumbersome device of dated entries that characterizes the latter half of the book. Intended to help other victims of domestic violence, Bonde’s memoir documents a pervasive social reality, reminding readers that domestic violence crosses economic, social and national boundaries. While her book lacks the polish of literature (e.g., with occasionally awkward phrasings and summary that overpowers some scenes), Bonde’s story provides a fascinating window onto Swedish domestic life. Like a well-edited diary, its details accumulate into a gripping portrait nearly as startling as a Stieg Larsson novel. Challenging the stereotype of Swedish society as socially and sexually progressive, Bonde reveals a culture riven by broken marriages, mistresses, drug abuse and violence. Her memoir will be of particular interest to readers and collections seeking first-person accounts of contemporary Swedish life for women.

An engaging, if rough-hewn, memoir of escape from domestic abuse in Sweden.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1467037297

Page Count: 244

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2013

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


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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