A thoughtful, multithemed autobiography focused on the challenges of motherhood, with particular insight into health care...

Impossible Choices


In this memoir, a former aspiring actress chronicles her transformative journey dealing with a daughter’s brain tumor and a later-in-life foreign adoption.

In 1972, depressed and financially dependent on a husband she was in the process of divorcing, Goodman, then 35, was told that her 5-year-old daughter, Julie, had a brain tumor and likely only six months to live. Julie underwent brain surgery and radiation treatment, then chemotherapy, leaving her neurologically disabled. Defying doctors, Goodman tried patterning, a controversial therapy of manipulating body parts to stimulate motor development. She recruited volunteers to help perform this work in her New York City apartment, and Julie lived, with some improvement, for another 20 years. Goodman also realized she was gay; she had one long-term lesbian relationship and eventually abandoned her “frivolous dream of being an actress” for a new career as a hospital counselor. In her 50s, Goodman, once again single, adopted Cache, a 3-year-old girl from Guatemala, who ended up having behavioral issues due to early childhood abuse and, later, sexual trauma as an 11-year-old. Goodman sprang into action, sending Cache to wilderness camp and boarding school. While Goodman remains unsure of these decisions, Cache, whose writings are excerpted in this narrative, is now back home and exploring a makeup artist career. In her often heartbreaking account, Goodman makes note of the cantor’s reference at Julie’s funeral to the Jewish legend about “a mother who did everything possible to keep her child alive.” Goodman is indeed living proof of such dedication, an example to parents everywhere to stay engaged in their children’s care. Though at times digressive with extraneous personal detail, Goodman is also refreshingly honest about the hardships in her life. “I…was always amazed that there was more screaming left,” she says about her primal scream therapy. Among her range of experiences—Julie, Cache, her sexual identity—each episode could be the subject of a more finely tuned memoir. This impressive individual, however, has certainly earned the right to tell her story in its totality.

A thoughtful, multithemed autobiography focused on the challenges of motherhood, with particular insight into health care advocacy.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494294441

Page Count: 208

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2014

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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