A harrowing but hopeful narrative.




Galloway tells the story of her lifelong recovery from child abuse in this debut memoir.

The author writes that when she was a child, she suffered physical abuse from her father, sexual abuse from her grandfather, and neglect from her mother. These experiences, she says, gave her a warped worldview in which she felt that she had no worth, no identity, and no hope. These feelings, and the belief that she deserved to be punished, led her to attempt suicide in college in the early 1970s. She was admitted to the university’s psychiatric ward, which she describes as “the most depressive and oppressive environment I had ever experienced,” and then to a traumatic halfway house. For several years after that, she says that she endured manipulative relationships with her mother, her friend Laura, and Laura’s mother, which led her to completely lose her sense of self. Finally, in 2009, as a “scared, confused, and lonely child in a 61-year old body,” Galloway began getting the help she needed. A good friend provided her with a safe place to live, a skilled counselor taught her new thought patterns, and she read numerous self-help books. Despite occasional setbacks, she says that she has now “integrated [her] various pieces into a new and improved whole person”; in the final chapter, she summarizes how this was possible. Over the course of this remembrance, Galloway reveals her story in a subtle but captivating way by blending expressive journal entries, candid details about her life, and direct pieces of advice to the reader. She also lays out the various elements of her recovery one piece at a time, doing so in an earnest and believable way, making it clear that it all required hard work to accomplish. Additionally, her explicit analysis of the psychological consequences of abuse—and how to mitigate them—is profound and eye-opening. Her insights will surely help fellow abuse survivors make sense of their own emotions, find reason to hope, and begin taking solid steps toward recovery.

A harrowing but hopeful narrative.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5043-9621-9

Page Count: 108

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2018

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.


A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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