A wise, moving meditation on the meaning of family, identity and fate.

LUCKY GIRL

A MEMOIR

Buenos Aires-based journalist Hopgood looks back at her reconnection with the Chinese parents who gave her up for adoption.

After arriving from Taiwan as a baby in 1974, the author lived an all-American life in the Michigan suburbs with two adoring parents and two adopted Korean brothers. She had recently graduated from college and started work as a reporter at the Detroit Free Press in 1995, when she met the nun who had arranged her adoption. Sister Maureen persuaded the initially reluctant Hopgood to make contact with her birth family, and correspondence eventually led to a 1997 visit to Taiwan. An imperious father, a docile mother, six chattering sisters and an adopted brother welcomed her. She reveled in the intimacy of sisterhood and the cacophony of an extended family, and its secrets unfolded over time. Her biological father was obsessed with having a son, as Chinese tradition dictated. But the baby girls kept coming, so he pressured his wife to put up two of them for adoption—Hopgood and a younger sister who ended up in Switzerland. The boy they adopted in hopes that he would continue the family name was mentally impaired by a childhood fever. (When the author visited, he was still living at home, with few prospects for marriage.) After that, Hopgood learned, the father brought another woman to live with them, but she didn’t bear a son either and eventually left. On a visit in 2004, the author had another shock. Her father had recently confessed to having a son with yet another woman, now dying of cancer, and bullied his wife into allowing the boy to live with them. Hopgood grew to love her sisters, but she had a harder time with her deeply flawed father and maddeningly passive mother; she still thought of her adoptive parents as her true mom and dad. She writes with humor and grace about her efforts to understand how biology, chance, choice and love intersect to delineate a life.

A wise, moving meditation on the meaning of family, identity and fate.

Pub Date: April 28, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56512-600-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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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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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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