A candid and engaging account of hippiedom.



A teenage rebel leaves her New Jersey home for San Francisco and finds herself swept up in the hippie movement in this debut memoir.

Raised in the Italian Jewish neighborhood of Mill Road in Irvington, New Jersey, English was the youngest of six siblings. She lived in the shadow of a “strict and old-fashioned” mother, who died in 1962 when the author was only 16 years old. English confides: “My mother’s death set me free.” Just over a year later, she moved to San Francisco to live with her sister Carole and her husband, David. The author soon found alternate accommodations “a few blocks off Haight,” at the epicenter of the counterculture movement. She recalls her first sexual experiences, her introduction to marijuana, and her rapid immersion in the hippie scene. The memoir goes on to describe English’s emotional highs and lows, from meeting Janis Joplin and living on The Farm (a community founded in Tennessee by spiritual guru Stephen Gaskin) to coping with abortion and Carole’s development of lupus while pregnant. The author offers an unabashed account of being part of the hippie movement. Regarding “free love,” she discusses the idea that sex “wasn’t that different from hugging someone” but also discloses that she could “often be found sitting in the bathtub afterwards, trying desperately to feel clean again.” English also shows that being a hippie chick was no escape from gender inequality—men expected her to have sex with them, and should she fall pregnant, they assumed she would get an abortion. Even Gaskin abused his position of power by making sexual advances: “Before I knew what was happening, he slipped his tongue in my mouth.” The author’s straight-talking style comes at a price—the book is lacking in rich imagery. For instance, she attended a Doors concert and unimaginatively describes Jim Morrison as “really adorable in a bad-boy kind of way.” An opportunity to transport readers to the event using vivid details is sadly missed. Nonetheless, this memoir, illustrated with English’s photographs, is a revealing account of hippie life from a female angle and will interest anyone intent on discovering the realities that lay behind countercultural ideology.

A candid and engaging account of hippiedom.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-586-5

Page Count: 344

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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