Resonant memories captured with lyrical grace.


A chronicle of the author's global interactions.

As a creative writer, activist, educator, and humanitarian aid worker, Holden’s life is a prismatic tapestry of moods, relationships, travel, and culture. In a collected series of essays and anecdotal meditations, she chronicles the many paths her travels have taken her, including time spent as an art model, crossing the border from Turkey into a Syrian “war zone” camp, and in Northern California, where she lives with her cousin. The author’s observations of Syria are intricately drawn and compassionately depict the area’s war-torn people and their seemingly “bleak future.” Holden’s creation of Survival Girls, a women’s theater group for Congolese refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, forms the backdrop for several anecdotes about female empowerment and enlightenment through performance and improvisation. Her writing is consistently and impressively flexible, wrapping around subject matter from varying corners of the intellectual and emotional spectrum. Reflections on the complexities of political exile in Inner Mongolia run alongside accounts of several visits to Bolivia, where she receives a message from a male ex-lover who broke her heart but with whom she commingled after breaking up with a clingy girlfriend. The author also presents thoughts about the Ferguson unrest and memories of planting seedlings on an island off the coast of Maine, a place where “ghosts are loosened.” Holden’s inspired prose forms a kaleidoscope of emotion, oscillating from the elegiac to the gorgeous to the humorous and self-deprecating, as when she describes her naiveté when first approaching Syrian soil: “I have no poker face and all the diplomatic discretion of Honey-Boo-Boo.” Discussing the shock of being 12 days pregnant, she writes how she composed a poem “to the unborn child I wasn’t ready for, whose mother wouldn’t have a house, a viable income, or a spouse.” Overall, the collection is poetic and entrancing, and the author’s experiences are deep and affecting. Though her travels may not personally affect every reader, her sensorial imagery of them will be contemplated with artful appreciation.

Resonant memories captured with lyrical grace.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-888553-95-6

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Kore Press

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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