An unflinchingly honest portrait of grief and survival that many fellow travelers will find comforting.



A veteran journalist shares the anguish of losing a son to suicide in this debut memoir that tracks her painful path to acceptance.

On Aug. 28, 2010, Thomson received a devastating phone call from her daughter-in-law. Kieran, the author’s son from her first marriage, had fatally shot himself. He was just a few months shy of his 23rd birthday, married, and the father of an almost 2-year-old daughter, Ailbe. In January 2009, he had enlisted in the Army. The decision filled Thomson with alarm, but Kieran was convinced this was his best option. He was trained as a medic, and he and his family were living at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, awaiting his deployment to Afghanistan. Kieran became one of 14 suicides at Fort Bragg that year. The narrative shifts back and forth seamlessly between present and past. Everything during the next two years triggered a memory from all the yesterdays with Kieran. The author reviews the pivotal events in his life—his birth in London; Thomson and her son’s move to her home in Tennessee; her new marriage; the birth of her son Matthew; and Kieran’s troubled teenage years. She writes: “Something, it seemed, wasn’t quite right” early on. Kieran was diagnosed with a newly classified learning disability that made social interactions difficult. The author brings readers along with her through the emotionally wrenching ordeal of a memorial service at Fort Bragg, the funeral in Middle Tennessee, and another memorial service at her family church in Memphis—all articulately and painstakingly chronicled. She muses: “Death seems to have a lot to do with logistics, I think. Moving from point A to point B.” But suicide adds its own excruciating dimension to the tragedy, telling “the shell-shocked survivor in the most horrific way imaginable that no matter what you did, it wasn’t enough.” Still, after two meticulously documented years of pushing through a gripping and toxic mix of sorrow, wide-ranging anger, and guilt, she takes a wonderfully surprising “leap” toward the future.

An unflinchingly honest portrait of grief and survival that many fellow travelers will find comforting.  

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-693-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2020

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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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