Set aside an evening when you won’t be interrupted, lay in boxes of Kleenex, and give yourself to a gripping memoir.

LEAVING THE SAINTS

HOW I LOST THE MORMONS AND FOUND MY FAITH

Riveting account of a journey home, a family crisis, and a spiritual search.

Memoirist Beck (Expecting Adam, 1998, etc.) returns to Mormon-land with her husband and two small children. Her younger child was born with Down syndrome, and the Becks decided that their hometown in Utah would offer a better environment for raising young Adam than the cutthroat world of Harvard Square (where everyone had pressed the Becks to abort as soon as the amnio results were in). Indeed, they are welcomed with open arms, shiny smiles, and many casseroles, and both Becks find posts at Brigham Young University, that bastion of Latter-day Saint higher education. But it’s a rough time to be at BYU, since the church hierarchies are weeding out intellectual Mormon dissidents. (Beck is instructed to teach “Sociology of Gender” without using the word “feminism.”) Beck watches in horror as the church’s crackdown culminates in the trials of the famous September Six, LDS scholars tried for heresy (five were excommunicated). Despite all the neighborly support, Beck is plagued with inexplicable pain, nightmares, and, ultimately, previously repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse by her father, a prominent Mormon apologist. Finally, deciding they can’t stay in Utah, the family leaves both the state and the church. But Beck remains ardently spiritual, finding faith in a generous God who, she knows, loves her even more than she loves her own children. Her sarcastic self-scrutiny and laugh-out-loud prose elevate her story far above the run-of-the-mill dysfunctional family memoir. And though Beck is critical of the LDS Church—its attempts to cover-up sexual assaults in Mormon homes, its refusal to deal with historical and archaeological finds that challenge orthodox doctrine—this is not a trashy exposé but a loving, sad account of coming home again, however sure it is to spark controversy in the corridors of power in Salt Lake City.

Set aside an evening when you won’t be interrupted, lay in boxes of Kleenex, and give yourself to a gripping memoir.

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-609-60991-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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