A gripping personal account of the mental effects of an unyielding medical condition.

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YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE ANYONE I KNOW

A TRUE STORY OF FAMILY, FACE BLINDNESS, AND FORGIVENESS

One woman’s struggle with a rare neurological illness.

Sellers (Creative Writing/Hope Coll.; Chapter After Chapter, 2009, etc.) weaves a tale in which the adult version of herself pushes back against the adolescent version in search of the impetus of her illness, prosopagnosia. More commonly known as face blindness, it renders the victim incapable of differentiating between faces. The author discovered it while waiting in line at Walgreens. After staring at the celebrities on the cover of People, she realized, “I recognized the names—Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Britney, Jessica—but not the faces.” Her problem worsened as she embarked on a new relationship with her soon-to-be husband, Dave, whose previous wife suffered mental problems, and whom Sellers believes understands her own problems because his last marriage forced him “to pitch a tent in the land of the insane.” On a trip to Disney World with Dave and his children, she suddenly felt alone amid the swelling crowd, becoming frantic and shouting for the children. When she finally stumbled upon them, a dumbfounded stepson said, “She looked right at me,” to which Sellers could only reply, “I didn't see.” The author frequently switches the narrative back to her adolescence, recounting a family life in which her cross-dressing, alcoholic father played a unique foil to her paranoid schizophrenic mother. Sellers endured the worst from both parents, and she searched for escape during her freshman year of college. Yet she soon discovered that despite her difficulties with her psychologically unstable parents, she remained connected to them, particularly her mother, whose schizophrenic behavior, she believes, was just a few shades away from her own face blindness. For Sellers, every interaction is predicated by the knowledge that she will not recognize the person she’s interacting with—a problem that cannot be solved, only accepted.

A gripping personal account of the mental effects of an unyielding medical condition.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59448-773-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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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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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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