A compelling story about coping with a serious illness, offering lessons in the value of slowing down and appreciating life...

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A hard-charging PR pro battles kidney failure, as chronicled in this heartfelt memoir.

Weeks before Christmas 1998, Frieden (The Offering, 2013) received devastating news. Her kidneys had stopped working; by the time she was admitted to the hospital, these essential organs were just 4 percent functional. Frieden, a self-described “blonde Amazon” in her early 30s, was highly educated, professionally successful, and athletic. With no history of prior health problems, she wasn’t sure how to cope with the diagnosis of anti-glomerular basement membrane disease, a rare autoimmune disorder. She began dialysis immediately, but the Bay Area resident, who previously had “lived at a frantic pace,” had difficulty adjusting to her new reality. “Delays and endless waiting, and then sitting for four long hours on dialysis, all violated what I valued most: the speed and efficiency that drive successful high tech PR,” she recalls. Eventually, she switched from traditional dialysis at a clinic to at-home peritoneal dialysis, which gave her more flexibility but presented its own challenges. Struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy, she continued to work full-time (and even took on a high-pressure new job) while waiting for her health to stabilize enough to receive a kidney transplant from her husband, Kurt. Despite the prosaic title and occasionally grim subject matter (kidney disease is often fatal), Frieden’s memoir is fresh and engaging. She takes time to discuss the reality of living with kidney disease and how her various surgeries and treatments changed her physical health and relationship with her body, but she gives equal weight to how the disease affected her emotionally. Frieden recounts how she eventually had to accept that “I no longer fit my life story,” a realization that led to a shift in perspective and a “simplicity of consciousness that nourished a profound peace.” This memoir will naturally be of interest to those with kidney problems and their loved ones, but it will also speak to anyone who’s led a life rocked by a personal crisis.

A compelling story about coping with a serious illness, offering lessons in the value of slowing down and appreciating life in the moment.

Pub Date: July 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1482678581

Page Count: 202

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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.

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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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