A heartfelt page-turner about depression and how dogs can save us from ourselves.


Dog Medicine


In this moving debut autobiography, a chronically depressed short story writer tells how her relationship with her dog saved her life.

Barton was a successful associate editor for an unnamed book publisher in New York City and appeared on her way to further success, but catastrophic depression continually gnawed at her. One morning, she found herself lying disoriented on the floor of her barren Manhattan apartment, the room full of smoke because she’d collapsed while at the stove while cooking the night before. With disturbing clarity, the author lays bare in the starkest terms the ravages of deep depression, including the continual destructive self-talk that consistently undermined her. “You’re so stupid,” Barton berated herself on that fateful morning; she eventually crawled across the floor to call her mother and tell her that she thought she’d had a nervous breakdown. What seeds in the author’s life grew such poisoned fruit? Barton writes that her brother often physically and verbally abused her and undermined her parents’ attempts to deal with sibling rivalry. The author unmasks the hidden face of domestic violence, writing that her brother once pushed her so hard that she ended up cracking her head, lying unconscious in a pool of her own blood: “I woke disoriented,” Barton writes, “my father hovering over me, yelling, panicked.” This difficult subject matter might cause a lesser writer to overreach and fall into maudlin sentimentality, but Barton writes with simple clarity and precision about her depression and its effects on her life, and about her bad choices in relationships with men. Her relentless drive toward self-destruction was eventually healed by her crucial, life-changing relationship with her dog, Bunker. Through the memoir, the author shows a captivating ability to observe the interplay of external events and her inner life. Along the way, she discovers, through Bunker’s unconditional love, her own capacity for self-realization. When a medical issue threatens to cripple or even kill Bunker, readers will wonder whether the dog—and Barton herself—will survive.

A heartfelt page-turner about depression and how dogs can save us from ourselves.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9863607-8-7

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Think Piece Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 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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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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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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