A powerful nod to familial bonding, written with verve and genuine affection.

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THE HISTORY OF SWIMMING

A MEMOIR

Emmy Award–winning screenwriter Powers initiates a desperate manhunt for his suicidal gay twin brother, who has vanished seven years after their tumultuous college days.

Alerted by his brother’s colleague, Powers discovers that his brother—they were born five minutes apart, both gay—has mysteriously disappeared. Knowing what he knows about Tim and his emotional issues, Kim suspects his brother has gone on a drinking binge due to anxiety over some changes in his life, including a new apartment. There’s much history between them. After their mother died young (of indeterminate causes), feelings of guilt and confusion surfaced, and both brothers resigned to believing they were the product of a “cursed childhood.” Growing up together, then separating after college, Kim moved in with his lover, a costume designer in Manhattan, and moody brother Tim relocated to Kentucky for a “crashed and burned” lifestyle of heavy drinking, self-mutilation and extravagant letter-writing to his brother before finally moving to New York and getting a job with a middling film director. Upon Tim’s disappearance, Kim notifies their older brother, anxiously questions friends, scours Tim’s apartment, his day-planner and bundles of secret letters, then smartly goes back to his brother’s college research papers, since this latest disappearance coincided with the same time of year as Tim’s emotional breakdown while away at college—the year he’d described as “swimming in time and space.” Picking up clues here and there, Kim follows a “path of bloody breadcrumbs” from a Greenwich Village bar, then sniffing around painful, long-buried memories back at Austin College in Texas, and on to some difficult soul-searching of his own. Powers amplifies his quest with frantic energy and such a desperate sense of urgency that when Tim is finally discovered, their tearful reunion seems anticlimactic at first—but more heartbreak is close behind.

A powerful nod to familial bonding, written with verve and genuine affection.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2006

ISBN: 0-78671-723-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2006

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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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