An artful class portrait of a town seen through the lens of a game, a tight-throated personal journey back into youth, and a...

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ICE TIME

A TALE OF HOCKEY AND HOMETOWN HEROES

Writing part memoir, part chronicle of a high-school hockey season, journalist and novelist Atkinson (Caveman Politics, 1997) takes readers along on his emotional ride as assistant coach of the 1999–2000 Methuen Rangers.

Atkinson grew up in Methuen, a one-time working-class town in Massachusetts now undergoing gentrification. Here, he returns to his high-school alma mater, 25 years after he played goalie for the school team, to record the current season. Like the newsman he is, Atkinson keeps his writing of the moment, which works beautifully for this nonstop sport. Hockey is elemental to Methuen, a part of the town’s collective identity, corralling entire families to sustain the expenses and long hours demanded from Methuen’s still essentially working class team. But a parent could ask for no better coach than Joe Robillard—“We’re here to help the kids, plain and simple”—the kind of sportsman who understands that passions are born, not made out of a parent’s inflated expectations, that you must work hard for your dreams, but they have to be your dreams to begin with. As Robillard puts his team through their paces, Atkinson laces the narrative with his personal experiences with hockey—from the pure, near-ancestral, qualities of pond hockey, through his high-school days, to his current old-man’s league—and proud, big-hearted stories of his five-year-old son’s early hockey experiences. Atkinson has evocative power, whether it be in describing the olfactory insult of a hockey locker room, the ebullience that attends a sharply played game, the sound of skates, cutting over ice, echoing off a far hillside, remembering the dedication of his father and hoping he can measure himself by that standard, or detailing the tribulations of high-school life: parents with cancer, loser friends, making mistakes and making amends, and hormones, hormones, hormones.

An artful class portrait of a town seen through the lens of a game, a tight-throated personal journey back into youth, and a keen description of the life force that hockey can be.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60706-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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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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