An important personal and sociological perspective on women’s lives.

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IT NEVER ENDS

MOTHERING MIDDLE-AGED DAUGHTERS

An insightful look at the relationships between senior mothers and their middle-aged daughters.

Butler (Cancer in Two Voices, 1991, etc.) and Gefen (Clear Lake, 2013, etc.) are both mothers in their 70s, navigating the shifting dynamics with their adult daughters. They note, in an introduction, the current lack of resources for older mothers and the lack of books on motherhood in general that simply describe experiences rather than criticize them. For this collaborative work, they interviewed 78 mothers, ages 65 to 85, all of whom have daughters in middle age. Most of the interview subjects live in the San Francisco Bay Area but are diverse in terms of ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. To protect their subjects’ privacy, Butler and Gefen wisely created six composite mothers “who represent the demographic characteristics of those in our study.” Each chapter discusses one of eight themes that emerged over the course of the interviews, such as how mothers define their closeness to their children, how they accept changing roles and navigate traumas, and how they prepare themselves and their kids for the future. In general, the authors found that older mothers understand their children’s many commitments but still want more from their current relationships: “We are struck again and again with their strong yearning to be close to their daughters at this time in their lives,” the authors note. To relate these findings, they aptly weave their conversations with interviewees into their general conclusions. For example, “Margo” tells of her daughter “Elise,” who lives in a cottage in the backyard, and she provides an exception to the aforementioned pattern of wanting more closeness: “She’s right under my nose all the time,” she says. “I suppose that’s being close.” Such frank admissions bring this book to life, because although readers know that Margo is a composite, her comments, and those of other mothers, ring true. And even though Butler and Gefen often search for patterns, they recognize that “no two mother-daughter relationships are alike,” nor should they be. Most older mothers of daughters will connect to at least one narrative in this book, which also includes discussion questions.

An important personal and sociological perspective on women’s lives.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-278-9

Page Count: 300

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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