A musician proves himself a talented, if long-winded, writer with a very good memory.




A painstaking emotional accounting of a tortured youth ultimately redeemed through music, therapy, and love.

In his debut, Jollett, the frontman for the indie band Airborne Toxic Event, opens the narrative in an orphanagelike facility in California when he was introduced to a strange woman who had come to take him away. “I remember that a 'Mom' is supposed to be a special thing....She tells me I’m her son and she wanted kids so she would not be alone anymore and now she has us and it is a son’s job to take care of his mother,” he writes. Both the author's parents were members of Synanon, a drug-recovery program–turned-cult that took children from their parents when they were 6 months old. After their release from captivity, Jollett and his brother grew up in extreme poverty in rural Oregon. Their mother's distorted view of the parent-child relationship made her almost completely useless as a caretaker; her terminally alcoholic boyfriend was the boys' only reliable source of either physical sustenance or affection. For the first third of the book, the author attempts to portray the world, and the English language, as he perceived it at age 5 and 6. His troubled mother had “deep-russian.” She hated “Thatasshole Reagan.” Another escapee from the cult was beaten by goons and developed “men-in-ji-tis” in the hospital; he thought about sending the cult leader a “sub-peena.” This becomes tiring, and since Jollett's mother was ultimately diagnosed with a personality disorder, the level of detail and repetition with regard to her maternal failures is overdone. The author's father, though an ex-con and former addict, is the story’s hero; he is beautifully written and lights up the book. In fifth grade, a friend introduced Jollett to the Cure. The Smiths and David Bowie were not far behind, and the teenage portion of the book, during which he often lived with his father in Los Angeles, is a smoother read. Ultimately, as he lucidly shows, music would change his life.

A musician proves himself a talented, if long-winded, writer with a very good memory.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-62156-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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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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