Though the writing isn’t notable, the author comes across as genuine, and some of her vignettes are genuinely entertaining.

GRIN AND BEAR IT

HOW TO BE HAPPY NO MATTER WHAT REALITY THROWS YOUR WAY

Frank memoir by debut author Pulos, a regular on the Bravo reality TV shows Flipping Out and Interior Therapy.

Known for her seemingly endless patience and sweet nature as the calm assistant to her obsessive, hot-tempered boss, realtor Jeff Lewis, on Flipping Out, Pulos pulls no punches in her autobiography-cum–self-help guide. Hers, she declares, is a “ ‘don't give up’/‘hang in there’/‘you can learn to be happy’/‘keep going’/‘own your own flaws’/‘succeed anyway’ book,” and her first tenet is to “tell the truth about yourself.” To that end, with the assistance of veteran co-author Morton (co-author, with Al Roker: Never Goin' Back: Winning the Weight-Loss Battle For Good, 2012, etc.), Pulos lays out the personal lows and highs from her life, including her then-husband ending their marriage on national TV. She also looks back at her successful career in entertainment, which followed being told that she was destined for Hollywood failure. Pulos' confessions and insights possess a disposition that's simultaneously sunny side up and self-deprecating. Her talent for revealing herself and laughing about her mistakes is endearing; her candid sharing of her foibles and embarrassments makes her triumphs, in love and work, feel earned. Her overarching story is one of self-transformation, specifically how she changed from playing small in order to please people, including those who underestimated her, into a woman who takes ownership of her life and happiness. Having embraced imperfections and mistakes dating back to her childhood (embarrassing photos included), Pulos laughs easily. Despite her insistence that this is not a how-to book, the author includes numerous lists, tips, sidebars and inspirational quotes from historical figures.

Though the writing isn’t notable, the author comes across as genuine, and some of her vignettes are genuinely entertaining.

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-02819-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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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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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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