A brutally honest, affecting memoir of family resilience.




In her debut memoir, former entrepreneur and catastrophic claims adjuster Atwell chronicles the challenges of helping an adult child with disabilities transition to independent living.

Atwell and her husband, John, were celebrating the independence of (and their independence from) Lindsey—who had recently graduated from high school, was employed, and lived in a cottage in their backyard—when Lindsey breathlessly announced that she’d had sex with Gabe, a developmentally disabled friend. Much to their relief, the encounter did not result in pregnancy, and Lindsey elected to undergo a tubal ligation, a decision that both relieved and disturbed Atwell, who mourned the grandchildren she would never have. The next indication of trouble came when Lindsey accepted a second job at a pizzeria, which seemed never to have any customers, owned by Emmett, a twice-divorced former pastor whom Atwell found creepy. Lindsey quit her full-time job and moved in with Emmett. Lindsey grew increasingly distant from her family, both geographically and emotionally. Emmett insisted the Atwells were prejudiced against him and ignored their concerns about his controlling behavior and lies about his past. After several years, frequent moves, and a period of homelessness, Lindsey finally returned to her parents. Eventually, Lindsey achieved a new level of independence, and she and Atwell reached a hard-earned truce in their strained relationship. Atwell frankly addresses the difficulties inherent in dealing with the sexuality of a special needs child. Told in flashbacks, she doesn’t focus on her journey to diagnosis, but begins when Lindsey is already an adult, illustrating that acceptance of a child’s special needs is an ongoing process. Some aspects of the account may make the reader cringe, such as Lindsey’s attempts at seduction. Lindsey’s story drives home the fact that legal adulthood begins at 18, regardless of maturity level, which hampered the Atwells’ efforts to rescue her from her bad relationship. Atwell’s evocative descriptions provide added depth to the characters, particularly Lindsey, whose voice emanates from the pages. The text is occasionally repetitive, but it doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the writing.

A brutally honest, affecting memoir of family resilience. 

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-280-2

Page Count: 325

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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