RIDING THE CYCLONE

GROWING UP FERAL IN THE '60S

Wiener is anything but subtle in this gripping memoir of her turbulent upbringing in the New York City suburbs.

When Wiener loses her mother tragically at the age of 6, rather than attempting to help his young daughter grieve, Wiener’s inattentive father hires a surly and often extremely violent nanny to raise his children. Though he ensures his children are materially cared for, Wiener’s father is neglectful of his feisty daughter’s emotional needs as she matures. In an attempt to avoid day-to-day family life, he sends them on international trips at every opportunity. To her peers, Wiener’s life must have seemed privileged and exotic with summers in Europe and extravagant ski trips; however, Wiener reveals the lifelong psychological turmoil caused by growing up with little parental supervision or nurturing. At times, Wiener’s accounts of the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of a clearly unstable nanny are so vividly intense that it’s difficult to imagine how she endured. Wiener is continually unsuccessful at her attempts to win attention or support from her father (even as he witnesses firsthand an abusive episode by the nanny) and is relieved to enter boarding school in Vermont for high school. Boarding school, however, fails to provide the acceptance she has been seeking as she struggles to fit in with peers who come from more harmonious families and backgrounds. Eventually, Wiener accepts her isolation and with the help of recreational drugs and music, she bides her time making knowingly bad decisions until she can begin her post-graduation life. A skillful writer, Wiener artfully weaves the raw emotion of her childhood suffering with the cultural experience of the United States during the 1960s and ’70s. The music and political events of the time create a strong backdrop framing Wiener’s memories and feelings without overpowering the private nature of her story. Intimate and absorbing, Wiener’s tale successfully captures the feelings of a spirited yet lost young child growing up in a tumultuous period in American history.

 

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-1468011364

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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

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.

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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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