Engelhardt is an accomplished poet and writer, and there is not a single significant misstep in this moving and engrossing...

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THE LONGEST NIGHT

A PERSONAL HISTORY OF PAN AM 103

In her debut memoir, Engelhardt writes about losing her husband, Tony Hawkins, who was on Pan Am Flight 103 that was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland, in the 1988 terrorist attack.

Hawkins was returning home to Brooklyn after a short visit to his native England. He was 57 and left behind his wife, Helen, and their son, Alan, who just turned 6. They’d had 16 years together; Alan was the late-life—and very precocious—child that they doted on. The book recounts that first year after Lockerbie but also looks back and recalls both the good times and the hard times. Like all marriages, theirs was not without challenges, but their love was rock-solid. And such lacerating irony: Tony was supposed to fly home a day earlier but begged an extra day to tie up loose ends. So many had stories like that to tell; others were supposed to make that flight but were saved by their “bad luck.” With other survivors, Engelhardt organized the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 and began lobbying, marching, protesting, writing letters (and newsletters), badgering whatever powers they thought could and should do more. She became all too familiar with the media and no fan of it. Engelhardt knows how to work up drama, switching between accounts of the couple’s honeymoon in Europe and accounts of the crash 16 years later, oscillating in time between the two and thus accentuating the horror. Engelhardt’s quietly moving poem to Tony and their love (“There Was So Much to Love”) provides the only imaginable coda to a memoir that begins with her prose poem titled “Incident at Altitude, 12/21/88,” which launches us into the nightmare. Thus is it bookended. The narrative of course brims with details both public and private. For the most part, Engelhardt writes clearly and with tight control, knowing that histrionics would cheapen her story. Such restraint makes the telling all the more powerful.

Engelhardt is an accomplished poet and writer, and there is not a single significant misstep in this moving and engrossing book.

Pub Date: June 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9851138-5-8

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Midsummer Sound Company, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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.

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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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