A powerful and heartfelt “slice of life” tale.

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TO SIRI WITH LOVE

A MOTHER, HER AUTISTIC SON, AND THE KINDNESS OF MACHINES

How Apple’s Siri made a life-altering difference for an autistic boy.

Expanded from a viral New York Times op-ed column she penned in 2014, this new book by Allure contributing editor Newman (You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman: Diary of a New (Older) Woman, 2004, etc.) compiles bittersweet anecdotes about her son Gus’ bond with the Apple app Siri. “Autism does not entirely define my son, but it informs so much about him and our life together,” writes the author, who birthed twin sons Gus and Henry prematurely. Writing with wit, humor, and effervescent honesty, Newman charts her history with twin sons who became distinctly different even prior to their first birthdays. Gus began exhibiting a marked lack of interest in his surroundings, eating only one food type at a time, and notable developmental and communicative delays. When he was diagnosed at age 6 as being on the autistic spectrum, Newman asked herself why and attempted to find and place causative blame. As Gus matured, she was continually heartbroken by the cruelty of children and even ill-mannered adults, yet she was also empowered to make a difference in her son’s life by observing, learning, and making his experience as close to happiness as she could. Among the many challenges were Gus’ growth impediments and numerous doctor appointments where she felt judged. The author also shares stories of how Henry grew up as the doting brother who always loved Gus yet often became exasperated. Early on, Gus had an affinity for music and singing, and Newman writes gleefully of his development of a “relationship” with Siri. This odd yet endearing pairing comprises the book’s rewarding and adorable closing third, a funny, warmhearted narrative of wry wisdom derived from the foibles of both Gus and Henry and powered by a maternal love that autism could never compromise. “In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us,” writes the author, “it’s worth considering another side of the story.”

A powerful and heartfelt “slice of life” tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241362-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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