A meandering account that delivers some worthy business tips and entertaining anecdotes.



A debut memoir recounts running a restaurant in Brazil.

Graham begins his book with the opening of East, a restaurant in São Paulo that he describes as “Shanghai opium den meets London lounge.” Although he lived in Brazil as a child, he spent most of his career in the U.S. In his 20s, he opened Forklift, a restaurant at a Utah ski resort. Optimistic and impulsive, Graham knew little about business but outlined a seven-step plan, starting with “get inspired” and ending with “live the dream.” Forklift flourished but he soon grew bored: “Work was now drudgery...I needed change.” He became chief of staff for Utah Gov. Scott Matheson and then moved to Washington, D.C., and spent many years in advertising. In each of these jobs, he found success; he was the “new boss.” But again, he grew restless, and after visiting Brazil on business, he decided to open East. The second half of Graham’s memoir details the joys and challenges of operating a restaurant in a foreign country. Tellingly, he never learned to speak Portuguese and seemed constantly in awe of and frustrated by Brazilian life. He recognized inequality and discovered that his staff saw him as a “gringo conquistador.” He aspired to a unique menu and décor but found himself “caving in to Brazilian expectations, sushi,” and open seating so guests could “show off their latest botox treatment.” Through financial, staffing, and menu troubles, East thrived for four years. Graham returned to America to write his memoir yet his chatty book reads like a crowded fusion restaurant, as if he began talking over drinks and stopped only when the establishment closed. His chapter titles suggest a similar pace. His tone is casual and self-deprecating and he offers hard-won, useful advice to would-be entrepreneurs. But the work is unfocused and uneven. He spends several pages on his dog chasing a squirrel, for instance, but mentions his children in just a few words. The volume’s most enjoyable parts focus on East.

A meandering account that delivers some worthy business tips and entertaining anecdotes.

Pub Date: June 30, 2017


Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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