Kaiser asserts her endearingly honest voice in this slim volume, raising profound questions about family and death, though...

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LETTERS TO MY MOTHER

BUT REALLY FOR MY FATHER

A young widow who lost her mother takes solace in an unusual medium—a series of 16 confessional letters.

Kaiser’s deeply touching one-way correspondence has one ostensible purpose: to ask her dead mother for advice on communicating with her father. She doesn’t want to find herself writing more questioning missives to him after he’s gone. But these letters read more like diary entries; the author chronicles everyday happenings and free-associates them with standout childhood memories. In each, Kaiser divulges her admiration for her mother, who wrangled a household of eight children with nary a smudge of her omnipresent bright red lipstick and who made time to read to her brood each night; later in life, she maintained a Beanie Baby loaner library for her grandchildren. Kaiser expresses much gratitude, but she also feels compelled to explain times when she pulled away. “This next sentence is hard to write,” she confesses, “but somewhere in my growing up I learned not to expect emotional comfort from you.” She also wants to apologize for never taking her mother for a pedicure. A loved one’s absence amplifies the quotidian alongside bigger existential questions, and Kaiser captures that dichotomy with candor and grace. She owns up to her personal shortcomings, fashioning herself as a totally relatable narrator, much as Anne Lamott has done in her memoirs. Kaiser’s direct voice, steeped in the kind of wisdom that develops from experience, hints at the fact that she has performed these letters onstage; each letter a monologue, their shifts in emotional tone certainly would make for a compelling one-woman show. In book form, however, they leave the reader wanting more; much back story seems to have been deleted for the sake of a crisp delivery. Expanding each chapter to fill in gaps between the colorful vignettes would improve the work.

Kaiser asserts her endearingly honest voice in this slim volume, raising profound questions about family and death, though the epistolary format constrains its narrative potential.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1453600092

Page Count: 92

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2012

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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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Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

THE DYNASTY

Action-packed tale of the building of the New England Patriots over the course of seven decades.

Prolific writer Benedict has long blended two interests—sports and business—and the Patriots are emblematic of both. Founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots, the team built a strategic home field between that city and Providence. When original owner Billy Sullivan sold the flailing team in 1988, it was $126 million in the hole, a condition so dire that “Sullivan had to beg the NFL to release emergency funds so he could pay his players.” Victor Kiam, the razor magnate, bought the long since renamed New England Patriots, but rival Robert Kraft bought first the parking lots and then the stadium—and “it rankled Kiam that he bore all the risk as the owner of the team but virtually all of the revenue that the team generated went to Kraft.” Check and mate. Kraft finally took over the team in 1994. Kraft inherited coach Bill Parcells, who in turn brought in star quarterback Drew Bledsoe, “the Patriots’ most prized player.” However, as the book’s nimbly constructed opening recounts, in 2001, Bledsoe got smeared in a hit “so violent that players along the Patriots sideline compared the sound of the collision to a car crash.” After that, it was backup Tom Brady’s team. Gridiron nerds will debate whether Brady is the greatest QB and Bill Belichick the greatest coach the game has ever known, but certainly they’ve had their share of controversy. The infamous “Deflategate” incident of 2015 takes up plenty of space in the late pages of the narrative, and depending on how you read between the lines, Brady was either an accomplice or an unwitting beneficiary. Still, as the author writes, by that point Brady “had started in 223 straight regular-season games,” an enviable record on a team that itself has racked up impressive stats.

Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982134-10-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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