While not all facets are of equal interest, this account of war, immigration, and family remains heartfelt and readable...

READ REVIEW

BEHIND A TINY STORY

A debut memoir chronicles a woman’s Christianity-fueled life in the Philippines and the United States.

Barinaga grew up in an agricultural town in the Philippines called Burauen. Her father was a devoted Protestant in a predominantly Roman Catholic country, and she always admired his “boldness in telling people about Jesus.” The author was only 3 years old in 1941 when the Japanese invaded the nation. She and her family moved to a small community near Burauen, where they lived a tense existence under enemy occupation. After the war, she attended a Christian high school then earned a degree in nursing from Silliman University. She married in 1960, and, after some difficult pregnancies, she moved with her family to the United States. In America, she and her husband, Leon, operated a home health care business. Leon eventually developed liver cancer. His struggle with the disease is detailed along with his edict that he would “ask God to lead and direct us” throughout the ordeal. God and Christianity are frequent presences throughout the book, as in an excerpt from the author’s journal, where she notes: “My prayer today is that God will grant me peace and strength.” The memoir moves briskly from event to event. Whether it is the struggle of operating a business or losing a loved one, the book never lingers too long on one subject. While such a pace keeps things moving, certain portions could have benefited from more reflection. For instance, the Japanese occupation of the Philippines is a striking event. The circumstances for people like Barinaga, who had to participate in an hour of exercise each morning while being watched by the enemy, makes for touching personal material. But some questions are left unanswered. Did she, as a child, understand what was going on? What did her family feel at the time? Other incidents, such as the wedding of a granddaughter, do not make for quite as stimulating reading. Information like “The exchange of vows was just a breeze yet solemn” pales in comparison to, say, occurrences during wartime. Nevertheless, the memoir never falters in delivering nuanced, digestible stories from the author’s life.

While not all facets are of equal interest, this account of war, immigration, and family remains heartfelt and readable throughout.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5144-3208-2

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more