An edifying blend of American history and personal reflection.

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WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING

LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST

Debut author Castle recounts a life devoted to social activism in the tumultuous 1960s and ’70s.

Castle was born in Detroit, a fourth-generation American of Irish-German lineage. She was raised Catholic, lobbied to be sent to a Catholic high school, and was encouraged to consider becoming a nun. After she graduated high school, she worked for the Ford Motor Company and married Don, a charismatic engineer she met through the local church. She threw herself headlong into domestic life—she had six children before she was 30—but was increasingly disenchanted by the limitations of her “mundane domestic routine.” Also, she was moved by the civil rights movement and inspired by the fearless rhetoric of Father Bill Cunningham, who taught that an authentic Christian morality demands both a commitment to human equality and a devotion to the protection of society’s most vulnerable and abused. After the 1967 race riots in Detroit, Castle understood that radical social activism was necessary and would function as the driving purpose of her life: “I began to understand that there was a deeper need for social justice that responded to the realities in the black community, justice that considered the plight of blacks at the hands of the dominant race and the law-and-order, racist police who ruled over their communities.” Her marriage wouldn’t survive, but she began an unlikely but successful relationship with Mike Hamlin, an activist deeply embedded within the Black Power movement, with whom she would help found the Control, Conflict, and Change Book Club, a group devoted to fostering collaborative efforts between blacks and whites. Castle writes astutely about the extraordinary difficulties that confront activism and includes an “activist’s survival guide” that distills the chief lessons of her own experience. She also writes affectingly of her defection from the Catholic Church and her deep misgivings about its failure to live up to its own principles. Finally, her candor is admirable—her wisdom came at the price of her missteps, which she shares with confessional honesty.

An edifying blend of American history and personal reflection.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9886714-0-9

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Against the Tide Books

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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