A useful, inspiring cautionary tale for prospective adoptive parents.

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WHEN RAIN HURTS

AN ADOPTIVE MOTHER'S JOURNEY WITH FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME

A searingly candid chronicle of the heroic struggle of two adoptive parents to raise their multiply disabled son.

Environmental attorney Greene (contributing author: Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, 2012) uses her personal experience to expose the problems that may arise in international adoptions, especially when the people involved are unscrupulous. Her account begins in 2004, when she and her husband adopted two Russian children. The author weaves together a running narrative with journal excerpts from the time when 3-year-old Peter and 2-year old Sophie joined the family. After it had become apparent that Greene and her husband were unlikely to conceive a child, they decided to adopt, settling on a now-bankrupt adoption agency from her home state, Florida. The agency connected them with a remotely located Russian orphanage. Aware of the dangers involved in international adoptions, they had enlisted the services of an adoption pediatrician to help them evaluate the information sent them by the agency. As it turned out, however, in the case of Peter, photographs had been doctored to obscure visible evidence that he suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition much like autism that can occur when a pregnant mother consumes excessive amounts of alcohol. Despite warning signs visible on their first meeting with the children—Peter and Sophie were severely malnourished, but Sophie was lively, affectionate and mentally alert, while Peter was disoriented, aggressive and impulsive—the couple decided to go ahead with his adoption. They naïvely hoped that he would respond to love and training, but this was not to be. Not only does he suffer from FAS, but he has also been diagnosed with autism, an epileptic seizure disorder and more, and he now lives in a residential treatment setting with frequent home visits.

A useful, inspiring cautionary tale for prospective adoptive parents.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59709-262-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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