A touching, angry, humorous, and engaging account of a turbulent life.

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A MEMOIR

A debut memoir excavates the secrets and multigenerational dysfunctions of a family.

Meyers’ life did not begin auspiciously. Conceived to keep her father, Gerry, out of World War II, she became less consequential when he was given 4-F status a few months before her arrival. Gerry and Tessie, children of Eastern European immigrants, were raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn when the area was essentially a Jewish ghetto. Their marriage was at best tumultuous, and Meyers spent her childhood navigating the space between her warring parents. Gerry was a womanizer who played on the edges of the Jewish mob. As a teenager, he was a leader in the Amboy Dukes, a feeder gang for Murder Inc., although there is no indication that he joined the “corporation.” Tessie was emotionally fragile and attempted suicide several times (finally succeeding in 1970). In 1957, the teenage Meyers spent the summer at a Catskills bungalow colony, where her grandmother worked a small concession. There the author met Ralph Lifshitz and fell passionately in love. Unfortunately, the relationship ended before it really began, and in 1961, desperate to move away from home, she married her buddy Howard. Twelve years and three sons later, they divorced. Meyers went on to college and a new marriage; she is currently a psychologist and psychoanalyst. The complex narrative, a series of long, evocative essays, often moves back and forth in time, as one experience or another is related to a memory from the past. This produces some repetition. But edgy, masterful prose, sprinkled with the Yiddish expressions of Meyers’ youth, gradually peels away the layers of hurt, confusion, and guilt—and includes a few surprises (for example, Ralph’s current identity). Of her grandparents’ marriage, she writes: “Eva, unlike Harry, was unable to protest. She packed her dreams in her suitcase, walked down the aisle and took the oath of servitude.” The author’s descriptions of 1940s Brooklyn, where she spent time with her grandmother, paint a sharp period portrait: “The butcher shop had sawdust on the floor, a finger on the scale, and Esther, the chicken plucker, in the corner.”

A touching, angry, humorous, and engaging account of a turbulent life.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-355-7

Page Count: 234

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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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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