The bond between mother and child knows no bounds in this intense memoir darkened by addiction and bipolar disorder yet...



A mother recounts her trials caring for a son derailed by mental illness and substance abuse.   

McGuire’s debut memoir begins with her pregnancy and ensuing marriage to boyfriend Jerry when both were college seniors in 1967. Sacrifices were made: the author surrendered her graduate school fellowship to move to Philadelphia, where her husband attended law school amid the births of their son, Ryan, and daughter, Liz. Though the family’s subsequent relocation to Los Angeles went smoothly, Ryan, an increasingly energetic child, became plagued by accidents, with one sledding injury cracking his skull when he was just 3. After divorcing Jerry, McGuire writes of wondering if this incident induced the brain trauma responsible for Ryan’s future battle with bipolar disorder, a condition that surfaced late in his collegiate years and worsened after moving to San Francisco, where heroin abuse took its toll. As this played out, McGuire emerged as a naïve, doting mother, easily swayed toward the enablement of Ryan’s dishonesty and self-destructive behavior—quick to hold her son blameless for his transgressions. “My love and concern for him often blinded me to the truth,” she admits. McGuire recalls the horror she felt when her son described “how great” heroin was and the bouts of paranoia that caused him to ride his bicycle up the California coast out of fear that his mental state would cause an earthquake back home. As her heartfelt and moving story descends further into the realms of despair and desperation, the author remains a beacon of hope and sets an amazing example for readers caught in a similar situation involving mental illness and a family member. While tracking Ryan’s cyclical behavior which landed him everywhere from psych wards and emergency rooms to rehab facilities and prison, McGuire continued to evolve with a new relationship and her daughter’s marriage. The author writes with a passionate flair, and she narrates the details of her family melodrama with conviction and a creative eye. Though hers was an all-consuming ordeal, McGuire finally wrested control of her emotional well-being and her life just as her son began to show signs of progress. A generous closing section of crisis counseling and referral resources forms a helpful coda to a harrowing family tale of sorrow, optimism, and recovery.

The bond between mother and child knows no bounds in this intense memoir darkened by addiction and bipolar disorder yet buoyed by love and possibility.  

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-125-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2017

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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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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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