An important account of hereditary cancer, but it’s one that could have been much more focused.


My Father's Daughter

A story of resilience and resourcefulness while battling cancer and other adversities.

Bruzzone’s debut memoir begins with her father’s death in 1997. He’d battled multiple cancers over seven years, and among his final words was a warning: “They think it is hereditary.” This made sense to the author, as almost all the family members on her father’s side had suffered from cancer in midlife. “It was a puzzle,” Bruzzone says. She and her husband went on to found Lynch Syndrome International in 2009, and the condition it’s named after is now better known: it’s a predisposition to cancer, especially colorectal cancer, caused by genetic mutations that run in families. In this book, she sets out to tell “the story of my family and our genetic journey with Lynch syndrome cancers.” She succeeds, but her book takes a rather long, circuitous route. In the first 18 chapters, she relates many details of her childhood, including interstate moves, her mother’s struggle with drug addiction, and her own estrangement from both her parents. Cancer, including breast cancer on her mother’s side, is a common theme throughout but not the central focus. Bruzzone later delves into the history of hereditary cancers, going back to the time of Napoleon, and also touches on the history of eugenics while also asking why familial links have long been ignored. She concludes with a topical discussion of genetic testing, both in general and for her own children. At one point, she spends 10 chapters recounting details of her career as a corrections officer, parole agent, and private investigator. This provides gripping insights into many social issues, including the role of women in high-risk jobs. However, it does seem tangential. The key link throughout is Bruzzone’s courage and doggedness while dealing with medical clerks and physicians who failed to consider her family history or worsening symptoms of cancer. “I had never felt more helpless,” she writes about waiting for tests and appointments. She eventually finds competent doctors, but she ably portrays the stress—and sometimes harm—that the medical system caused her.

An important account of hereditary cancer, but it’s one that could have been much more focused.

Pub Date: March 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4917-9235-3

Page Count: 386

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

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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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