An accessible, dramatic narrative of brain damage and its toll on caregivers that deserves a broad readership.

READ REVIEW

He Never Liked Cake

Leyde’s debut takes readers on a painful, funny and shocking journey through her family’s life after her father suffers brain damage and exhibits a drastically altered personality.

In 1996, when she was 14, Pennsylvania-born author Leyde’s father, John, survived a car wreck that violently whipped his head into the windshield. The author had seen the 1991 movie Regarding Henry, in which a bullet in the head transforms a coldblooded yuppie into a gentle family man, but reality didn’t have a Hollywood happy ending. Before his traumatic brain injury, John Leyde was a water- and snow-skiing enthusiast, avid photographer, recreational marijuana smoker and mellow dad in the mold of his hero, the musician Jimmy Buffett. But after he emerged from hospitalization, he lacked most of his long-term memories and executive mental functions; he was an uncoordinated, impulsive drug addict/alcoholic. He became an alternately angry and apathetic layabout, but he still remained a Jimmy Buffett fan; indeed, one of the achingly few times his daughter saw her beloved father’s old personality resurface was while he was listening to Buffett sing. The narrative is divided between John’s chronic misbehavior (and its soul-wearying effect on his wife, Claudia, the author’s mother) and the author’s own coming-of-age as a teen juggling various boyfriends and, later, as a journalism graduate roller-coastering around the NYC magazine scene with her friends. Bad news from Pennsylvania repeatedly drags Janna back into her father’s drama. At one point, she announces to the long-suffering Claudia her plans to write a book about John, and periodic diary excerpts tip us off that this is that book—making it, in part, an act of therapeutic catharsis. But if this is a product of crisis-related journaling, it’s a specimen of the highest order—a hard-to-put-down inquiry on the extremes of love and family.

An accessible, dramatic narrative of brain damage and its toll on caregivers that deserves a broad readership.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1452568287

Page Count: 380

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

more