An unflinching account of “the good, the bad, and the bald, ugly truth” about cancer.

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HAD I KNOWN

A MEMOIR OF SURVIVAL

The former Good Morning America host takes readers backstage in this unvarnished account of her bout with breast cancer.

A longtime advocate for women's health, Lunden (Wake Up Calls: Making the Most Out of Every Day, 2000, etc.) lives her life in the public eye. When she was diagnosed with two cancerous tumors in June 2014, she announced the news on national TV. The author describes the challenge of putting on a brave public face while undergoing rigorous treatment. Her stress peaked in September, when she was asked to appear on the cover of People without a wig to cover her chemotherapy-induced baldness. The decision to go ahead with the photo shoot was difficult, but she ultimately agreed. Her youthful appearance belied her age of 64, and her appearance was an important part of her celebrity status. “I am all about ‘sixty is the new forty,’ ” she writes, sharing her unwillingness to be called Grandma even though she adored the role. After her diagnosis with a rare type of aggressive breast cancer, the specialists she consulted were initially at odds about the best treatment protocol: whether to operate first or start with an initial round of chemotherapy before operating. The stakes were high. If the chemo treatment was successful, then the surgery would be less invasive; if it wasn’t, postponing surgery increased the risk. Lunden opted for chemotherapy, then surgery, followed by more chemotherapy and radiation. A strict diet and exercise regimen were also part of the package. The author describes her elation when the doctors determined that her tumors had shrunk dramatically after the first round of chemo. The side effects from chemotherapy were rough, but with the support of family, friends, and fans, Lunden was able to maintain her active lifestyle. Though not without its overwritten sections, the book is inspiring and informative.

An unflinching account of “the good, the bad, and the bald, ugly truth” about cancer.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-240408-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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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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