A life story told from a unique but relatable perspective.




Bailey recounts his long journey from self-hatred to self-love in this debut memoir.

The author was born to a teenage mother on the South Side of Chicago, and he says that he was abandoned by his father after his mom refused to marry. The author internalized a perceived lack of love, he says, as he was raised by a selfish Baptist-preacher grandfather and a tough single mother. He writes that he was taught to blame himself for other people’s actions against him, and so he never reported the molestation that he suffered at the hands of a babysitter when he was 8. He says that his abuser told him: “If your mom finds out, she’ll kill you.” This emotional baggage, along with low self-esteem stemming from being overweight, created more complications for Bailey. He pursued women from a young age while simultaneously feeling like he was never good enough to be with them: “To say that I had lots of experience with unconditional love, somebody who was always there for me, somebody I could love and who loved me in return, would be a lie,” he writes. As he pursued a career as a Protestant minister and repeatedly attempted to find real love, he was forced to confront his fraught relationships with institutions, women, grief, God, and—most critically—himself. Bailey writes in a conversational style that doesn’t shy away from sentimentality: “I was awestruck, enticed, and later satiated and ravaged. I wanted her, she knew it, and it happened again and again.” His account of his journey is thoughtful and frequently compelling, although his chronological approach is perhaps too inclusive. At one point, for example, he tells of playing Ping-Pong with Cornel West in the student center of Howard University, which sounds fun but doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the story. The religious content is rather light, and Bailey’s struggles with his weight and its bearing on his treatment of women are very common and under-discussed issues among men. As a result, some readers may find inspiration to take a hard look at themselves.

A life story told from a unique but relatable perspective.

Pub Date: July 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-2685-0

Page Count: 276

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 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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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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