A dark yet inspiring look at conquering addiction and regaining hope.

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NEVER GIVE IN TO FEAR

LAUGHING ALL THE WAY UP FROM ROCK BOTTOM

MacGibbon shows readers just how rough the road to redemption is in her gritty memoir of addiction.

The narrative begins with Marti, an aspiring stand-up comedian with a promising career, strung out on drugs and steeped in a culture of sex and music. A new transplant to California from Texas, Marti feels like she’s on top of the world; instead, she’s about to hit rock bottom. She’s running from the pain of losing custody of her daughter, and in her haphazard pursuit of success she clings to “the dope fiends, the winos, the crystal meth chefs. My kind of people. People I could trust.” Soon after moving to a new town, she has a terrifying nightmare that sends her spiraling into a ruinous relationship. When her dark dream turns into a real-life news story, Marti and her boyfriend run further from the fear and realities that, once confronted, will ultimately make or break the couple. Any reader who has ever faced chilling regrets will sympathize with Marti as she recounts, one by one, the red flags of her past. The book’s title, however, may give the impression of a self-help focus that doesn’t actually run through the narrative. While parts of Marti’s life may be tough to read about—she doesn’t spare readers the harsh language, violence and sexuality of real life—her levity and transparency make the journey bearable and worthwhile. Her raw, honest, casual, funny voice permeates every page. The road to recovery begins with her daughter’s forgiveness and continues in a new, healthy marriage. Facing a number of tough crowds as her stand-up career restarts also helps Marti learn to maintain her composure. In the end, readers will likely feel the restorative power that’s symbolized in the memoir’s striking closing image of a rare albino redwood, a symbol of healing.

A dark yet inspiring look at conquering addiction and regaining hope.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9860067-0-8

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2012

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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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Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

THE DYNASTY

Action-packed tale of the building of the New England Patriots over the course of seven decades.

Prolific writer Benedict has long blended two interests—sports and business—and the Patriots are emblematic of both. Founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots, the team built a strategic home field between that city and Providence. When original owner Billy Sullivan sold the flailing team in 1988, it was $126 million in the hole, a condition so dire that “Sullivan had to beg the NFL to release emergency funds so he could pay his players.” Victor Kiam, the razor magnate, bought the long since renamed New England Patriots, but rival Robert Kraft bought first the parking lots and then the stadium—and “it rankled Kiam that he bore all the risk as the owner of the team but virtually all of the revenue that the team generated went to Kraft.” Check and mate. Kraft finally took over the team in 1994. Kraft inherited coach Bill Parcells, who in turn brought in star quarterback Drew Bledsoe, “the Patriots’ most prized player.” However, as the book’s nimbly constructed opening recounts, in 2001, Bledsoe got smeared in a hit “so violent that players along the Patriots sideline compared the sound of the collision to a car crash.” After that, it was backup Tom Brady’s team. Gridiron nerds will debate whether Brady is the greatest QB and Bill Belichick the greatest coach the game has ever known, but certainly they’ve had their share of controversy. The infamous “Deflategate” incident of 2015 takes up plenty of space in the late pages of the narrative, and depending on how you read between the lines, Brady was either an accomplice or an unwitting beneficiary. Still, as the author writes, by that point Brady “had started in 223 straight regular-season games,” an enviable record on a team that itself has racked up impressive stats.

Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982134-10-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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