A brave and honest account that illuminates the trauma suffered by rape survivors and their loved ones.

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CODE: 10-71

VICTIM TO VICTOR

A debut memoir recounts the details of a harrowing, brutal rape and the author’s difficult path to recovery.

When Morehouse (a rape counselor at the time) returned to her town house in Edmonds, Washington, one night in May 1993, she had no idea that the next few hours would permanently change her life. She took her terrier-poodle mix, Puka, out for a walk, finished counting the proceeds from the coffee shop she owned, and climbed into bed. The next thing she remembered was lying face down on the floor of her bedroom, a man’s knee digging into her back, and his first words: “Shut up! We’re going to kill you!” Then she felt something sharp piercing her shoulder. What followed were hours of torment. The 21-year-old assailant pounded her head on the floor and against furniture, cut her with his knife, and raped her repeatedly while threatening to murder her. Finally, while he was looking for her cash, Morehouse was able to find her gun. Battered as she was, she took command of the situation, firing shots at the man later identified as Allan Ray Chesnutt and forcing him to lie on the floor until the police arrived. She had caught the serial rapist who had been plaguing the area. She was hailed as a “hero,” but this brought her no comfort: “Being labeled a hero was almost as hard as being labeled a victim—I just wanted my life back.” It would take years of therapy and several unhealthy relationships before she regained control of her life. In an account at once deeply personal and starkly specific, Morehouse relates each moment of the assault with riveting and frightening clarity. Readers will breathe a sigh of relief when the police arrive to find Chesnutt doubled over on the bathroom floor with the author holding her gun on him. But the heart of the book is yet to come. It rests in the many steps—and mistakes— of her lengthy journey back to self-confidence and self-reliance. It is chilling to watch her become involved in a series of emotionally abusive relationships. For her, at that stage, it was more terrifying to be alone: “Many times after the attack I believed there was nothing I could do to change things, I just allowed them to happen. I allowed myself to be victimized which kept me immersed in a victim mentality; helpless, needy and vulnerable.” Morehouse’s prose is fluid, but she has a proclivity for run-on sentences and a heavy, sometimes-bewildering use of commas where periods are needed: “My attacker lay face down on the powder room floor, his hand clutched his head, I saw this as my opportunity to make it to the door.” Still, once engaged in the compelling narrative, readers will likely forget the minor inconvenience of filling in their own full stops.

A brave and honest account that illuminates the trauma suffered by rape survivors and their loved ones.

Pub Date: June 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5331-7904-3

Page Count: 244

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 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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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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