Written with passion and honesty, this book shares each step of the author’s journey, making an unbearable tale of suicide...




In this debut memoir, a businessman details how he used the most excruciating experience of his life to help save others.

In the early hours of Oct. 15, 2010, Trautwein’s oldest son, Will, a handsome, popular, beloved 15-year-old, wrapped his belt around his neck and hung himself from his bedroom closet door. He left behind his anguished parents, three younger siblings, and an enormous circle of grief-stricken extended family and friends. There were no obvious warning signs and no suicide note, only a penciled picture found in a folder on top of Will’s backpack—a drawing of a boy holding a gun to his head, and then, lower on the page, “a smaller drawing of a man hanging himself.” How could this happen? Why? There are no answers. But readers do learn that Will—so outgoing, so normal—is the very face of teenage suicide. Trautwein, a former professional baseball player and a businessman, knew he must find a way to carve a path for the living to bring himself and his family through the tragedy. His answer was to form The Will to Live Foundation, dedicated to teaching teenagers how to turn to one another for help when they are despondent. In part inspired by the angel Clarence in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the foundation’s mission is to encourage teenagers to find their own Clarence, that one friend they can turn to when they need a guide back from the precipice. In this stirring account, the author brings readers into the horror of the moment of that terrible October morning: “My boy was hanging from the closet door. He was ghost white....Those beautiful blue eyes…were open, but lifeless... staring straight out at me, right through me.” Tears continually spill from the pages. But then they are dried by Trautwein’s infectious optimism. He has found a way to honor his son and his own survival (“The day The Will to Live Foundation was formed, something extremely special, something truly good began! I felt alive again, really for the first time since Will died”). This skillful memoir is both devastatingly painful and surprisingly filled with hope.

Written with passion and honesty, this book shares each step of the author’s journey, making an unbearable tale of suicide readable and inspirational.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4908-5973-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.


A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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