A detailed and ultimately touching memoir in the form of a hospital manual.

Jeremy's Hospital Survival Guide

A posthumous reconstruction offers a valiant young patient’s guide to dealing with hospital stays.

Jeremy Libon, the central figure and inspiration for this short debut book compiled by his family, was born with a congenital heart defect that led his doctors to warn that his odds of living even to the age of 2 were only 50-50. It turned out he lived until April 2010, dying at the age of 18, and in that time he demonstrated both an unquenchable spirit of optimism and a savvy, pragmatic knowledge of the hospital world through countless stays under doctors’ care. The segment of the book actually authored by Jeremy is blunt about the drawbacks of hospital stays, detailing annoyances like being woken up round the clock for vitals testing, IV changing, and the frequent taking of blood. He even addresses the dismal experience of being admitted to the hospital in the first place. His short segment also provides upbeat advice about reclaiming your life once you return from a hospital stay: showering the clinical smells off your skin and hair, and taking it easy (“There is nothing wrong with taking a nap during the day, no matter how old you are”). His section of the book is followed by remembrances of him by his brother, his father, and, in the most moving and practical-minded account, his mother. She continues the advice-giving theme of Jeremy’s section, talking to readers about tricks to stave off waiting-room boredom, and ways to navigate hospital regulations about visitors and family members sleeping in the building. Parents of severely ill children should find her advice valuable on subjects ranging from the power of distraction to the benefit of discussions with nurses (“They can help you figure out the day-to-day, nitty-gritty, quality-of-life issues that many doctors don’t concern themselves with”). The cumulative effect of all these different family voices makes Jeremy's death all the more crushing—and his courage all the more uplifting.

A detailed and ultimately touching memoir in the form of a hospital manual.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5122-2376-7

Page Count: 120

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 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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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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