Heartfelt reflections on the lessons and strength to be gained from grief and loss.

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How Learning to Say Goodbye Taught Me How to Live

McClung muses on the spiritual insights learned during the last six months of her best friend’s life in this debut memoir.

When McClung, just emerging from a two-year grieving process over the death of her mother, found out that her best friend, Rob, had stage 4 breast cancer, she vowed, “I would not lose myself in grief again.” In this journal, the author, who had left a New York City media career to take care of her mother in Texas, shares the spiritual journey that she and her friend traveled during the last six months of Rob’s life. McClung notes that while they “had had disciplined spiritual practices for the past thirty years,” Rob had “kept her Higher Self” at arm’s length. After Rob’s partner died suddenly, and then her mother a few weeks later, McClung convinced her to move from Los Angeles to Texas to spend her final days with her father and brother, whom she had not seen in 22 years. The two women encountered what they termed “out of the blues” appearances of “angels” (including a friend named Gabriel) that made this transition more bearable. By memoir’s end, Rob makes her “crossing,” but not before admitting that she finally felt loved during a family Christmas celebration, an event that McClung, who gave her friend necessary space during this time, did not take part in. The author ends each chapter with resonant questions for readers to ponder. McClung has written a thoughtful think piece that also serves as a touching tribute to “one of my greatest teachers during the worst time of her life.” The questions the author presents readers arise appropriately from her narrative and also have universal relevance, including “When is the last time you said you were sorry to yourself or another?” While some details are tantalizingly underdeveloped (including Rob’s “sick and depressed” partner), McClung offers many well-sketched, even funny, anecdotes, including her “outburst” in Target arguing by phone with Rob about buying her an outfit.

Heartfelt reflections on the lessons and strength to be gained from grief and loss.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5043-3909-4

Page Count: 166

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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