Inspirational and candid information on a topic most of us never want to think about until we are forced to confront it.

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THE HOT YOUNG WIDOWS CLUB

LESSONS ON SURVIVAL FROM THE FRONT LINES OF GRIEF

The latest installment of the TED Books series is a book “not just for those who have survived the death of a spouse, but for anyone who has loved someone who died, or who has loved someone who loved someone who died.”

In the space of a few months, McInerny (It's Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too), 2016, etc.) lost a pregnancy, her father, and her husband. Understandably falling into a deep pit of grief, she discovered others who were stuck there as well. While she slowly rebuilt her life, she noticed that while there are plenty of assumptions about mourning and grieving people, there was no playbook for the aggrieved. In this concise exploration of “foundational loss,” the author shares her thoughts on how she made it through her most difficult moments and provides readers with the guidelines that worked for her—and didn’t. Although the subject makes for tough reading, McInerny approaches it with practicality (“order as many death certificates as you can afford”) and humor (“you have no idea how hard it is to prove someone is dead until your person dies”). Refreshingly, she breaks this grim and challenging topic into bite-sized pieces. She counsels readers to tell your loved ones that you really are not OK, that it is normal to feel like your brain is overloaded, and what to write in a sympathy card (there’s a template for those at a loss for words). Even though the book is short—as all TED Books are—it includes an impressive amount of helpful information about how anyone can deal with grief. It should be required reading for nearly everyone, since, sadly, “everyone you know will die and…each death will bring a fresh new brand of grief.”

Inspirational and candid information on a topic most of us never want to think about until we are forced to confront it.

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982109-98-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: TED/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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