An amusing, if uneven, account that features lively tales of a quirky Midwest family.



A debut memoir offers the reminiscences of a Hungarian American woman who grew up in the 1950s in an Indiana refinery town and later became a wanderer.

In this book, McCoy tells the story of her oddball family, including her dad, who made her stock the furnace coal bin. He gave her a hideous black rubber mask to wear when feeding the furnace. Dad also made her wait in the car while he stopped by a bar to quaff a beer or three. And he “didn’t like trees. Reliable providers of shade in the heat of the summer, they were not his friend in leaf-raking time.” While life as a teenager was challenging anywhere, “living in a Hungarian-American household had to be some kind of test,” the author asserts. There were “dozens of crocheted doilies lying on top of anything that didn’t move.” And Mom constantly stabbed at wayward rugs with her shoe heels. McCoy dreamed of escaping to college, an ambition Dad scorned. But she attained her dream only to come back from school for Thanksgiving to discover Dad had replaced the coal clunker with a gas-burning furnace. “Now? Unbelievable!” the author writes of Dad’s timing. “I looked at him, mumbled something, and headed back upstairs.” Chronicling her father’s dismissals, McCoy recounts her family’s foibles with wry wit, an eye for detail, and sharp prose that make the first part of this work an entertaining journey to this Midwest lakeshore town where the air stank of industry. But the book, which features black-and-white family photographs, loses some oomph in the second half. That part describes the author and her husband repeatedly crisscrossing the Atlantic because of his job as a journalist. (The memoir’s title, which some readers may find off-putting, comes from a remark made by McCoy’s father.) The incisive character development marking the first half gets a bit lost in the various details and logistics of moving a household.

An amusing, if uneven, account that features lively tales of a quirky Midwest family.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64471-871-1

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Covenant Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 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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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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