An often revealing book about a search for spiritual solace.




A woman diagnosed with breast cancer receives spiritual comfort and support from generations of female ancestors in this debut memoir.

In her introduction, Dobbe outlines the factors that helped her to face the most challenging period of her life with courage and determination. She did so, she says, by exploring “the gloomiest as well as the most glorious parts of my soul.” She asserts that her deep connection to numerous past and present female relatives helped to guide her on her journey. These included her sister, who received a diagnosis of cancer before Dobbe received her own; the spirit of her late mother, whose near-death experience during a World War II bombing in the Netherlands, she says, left her with psychic abilities; and her grandmother, whose spirit lovingly teaches the author, decades after her own death from breast cancer. Dobbe, an acupuncturist and tulip farmer, writes that she’s keenly attuned to both the mystical rhythms of nature and the possibilities of alternative methods of medical treatment. She says that she helped to ease her sister Coby’s suffering with plant-based remedies, such as curcuma and cat’s-claw, and that she finds her own comfort and spiritual guidance from meditating among trees. When family divisions surface after Coby’s death, Dobbe negotiates them by entering “the sacred circle” with the spirits of her sister and other “women of my tribe,” where she receives loving advice about mending damaged connections. The author’s tone is warm and enthusiastic throughout this work, and her journey through her family history is compellingly intimate; for example, she espouses the theory that one’s ancestors’ trauma gets embedded in one’s genetic code, so that in this remembrance, she’s exploring her own inherited pain. Some readers may need to suspend their disbelief, though, when she recounts her psychic experiences; the language of members of Dobbe’s aforementioned tribe, for example, sometimes sounds a bit like modern psychotherapists’, as when one explains the author’s grandmother’s pain as being “a compilation of mental and emotional experiences.” Overall, however, the narrative offers a tender portrait of human suffering.

An often revealing book about a search for spiritual solace.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5043-9835-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: July 26, 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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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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