Part memoir, part journal, part plan-in-progress, Bates has no time for self-pity, preferring instead to celebrate all that...

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LOOKING IN THE MIRROR OUT

Labeled with Multiple Personality and Dissociative Identity disorders, author Bates writes about the 18 personalities living in her head.

Bates collectively refers to her personalities as “The Long Black Train.” The train includes: Maverick, alternating between 1 and 5 years old, who is tasked with keeping “Nora” alive; Baby, Kitty, The Little Ones, Lily, Awww, Rant, Fishy and Worm all have their specific jobs; and, it’s up to Time Keeper to keep Maverick informed and the train on the rails. Bates writes her story with clear intent and purpose. Her prose is not meant to enhance, but simply to reveal the unadorned truth of her ongoing struggle with mental illness.  Bates understands that it’s not easy for friends and loved ones to deal with her condition, that they invariably perpetuate the problem with their incessant query of whether she has taken her meds whenever the slightest shift in emotion is detected. In relaying her plight, Bates makes it clear that she isn’t going to accept her fate without a fight. However, it’s that acceptance that allows her to better deal with the issues at hand and enables her to appreciate each victory—such as keeping the voices at bay long enough to have a meaningful conversation with a stranger or completing important tasks. Even with no real linear direction, Bates’ conveyance of the chaos in her head creates its own random flow that falls into an agreeable rhythm of order. The author has put great effort into working on herself, trying to control Rant’s explosive anger and deal with Kat’s self-deprecation, The Little Ones’ deathly fears and Maverick’s lack of drive. Trying to reunite a mind that has fractured into 18 parts is not easy, and Bates rightfully savors her triumphs and accepts setbacks with grace. Showing strength and determination that is often found lacking in “normals,” Bates’ voice is clear and strong, and her message carries weight.

Part memoir, part journal, part plan-in-progress, Bates has no time for self-pity, preferring instead to celebrate all that she is grateful for.

Pub Date: March 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468548426

Page Count: 268

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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