Sharp, courageous writing in a powerful memoir.

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JOY RIDE

MY ONE-LEGGED JOURNEY TO SELF-ACCEPTANCE

A woman who had her right leg amputated as a child addresses her compulsions and her relationship with her body.

In 1959, Daly was diagnosed with bone cancer—she was 8 years old. By 11, she had experienced the trauma of having her right leg and pelvis amputated. The opening of her debut memoir recounts her early years, which initially were similar to those of most children growing up in New Jersey in the 1950s. The daughter of loving parents, she recalls simple delights, such as sticking her finger in the frosting of a cake or running to the bar across the road from the family’s Hoboken apartment to call her father home for dinner and being given peanuts by the bartender. Her life changed when she began to feel terrible aches in her right leg, which were first diagnosed as growing pains before the underlying cancer was found. After being referred to an orthopedic surgeon, she endured radiation treatment, with the added anguish of watching young cancer patients die. The account goes on to address how Daly dealt with life on her journey into adulthood following the amputation. Overeating became a coping strategy for her, which developed into bulimia. She also began stealing for the “rush of excitement and power.” Her pathway toward self-acceptance became clearer when, in her 40s, she discovered a form of improvisational dance that allowed her to open communication channels between her mind, body, and spirit. The strength of this deeply moving memoir lies in its blunt honesty regarding self-perception: “I feel ashamed of wanting my distorted body to look sexy, like it’s impossible, something no one will ever think I am. Still, I hold out hope Paul will be attracted to me.” Yet coupled with her straight-talking approach, she expresses a beguiling tenderness toward readers: “I hope you find a friend in the girl I write about.” The life recalled here is punctuated with harrowing challenges, several of which appear insurmountable. But the author proves to be a true inspiration, and every sentence seems to smolder with her tenacity.

Sharp, courageous writing in a powerful memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-977815-44-6

Page Count: 410

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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