Quirky and bighearted.

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ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID (FOR HIRE)

STORIES ON GROWING UP, LOOKING FOR LOVE, AND WALKING DOWN THE AISLE FOR COMPLETE STRANGERS

A millennial’s account of how she went from being the girl all her female friends wanted at their weddings to a professional bridesmaid.

The thought of weddings never inspired Glantz, who founded Bridesmaid for Hire. As a child, she wondered about which toy she’d find in her next McDonald’s Happy Meal, while other girls contemplated “the cuts of their future [wedding] rings, the colors of their future flowers, and the flavors of their future cakes.” By the time she graduated from college, Glantz had become a veteran of “bad dates…email breakups [and] Tinder messages full of bad grammar and lame come-ons,” while her friends had settled into long-term relationships. A chance encounter with a soon-to-be-married friend drove the author to shake up her life with a move to New York. Finding work as a “bottom-level PR assistant” with a salary that “resemble[d] that of a top-level intern,” she was soon under pressure from her mother to find a husband or, at the very least, freeze her eggs. In the meantime, she found herself attending—and very often saving—her friends’ weddings. On a half-drunk whim, Glantz put an offer on Craigslist to provide “professional bridesmaid” services, which included making sure other bridesmaids didn’t “paint their nails lime green” and “holding up the 18 layers of [a wedding dress]” while brides used the bathroom. Her post went viral, and soon she was besieged with requests from brides all over the country. Yet temporary celebrity did nothing for her professional life, which at one point included three jobs. But as she continued working with brides, Glantz learned more about love than she imagined. Some married “the first person they kissed”; others, like the woman with a gay boyfriend, married people who could never fully return their love. Funny and at times touching, the book is a thoroughly modern story about love and youth, right down to the open, not necessarily happy-ever-after ending.

Quirky and bighearted.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3906-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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

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

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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

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