Both crushing and uplifting; an account nearly as emotional as the caregiver’s trials it vividly outlines.

WHILE THEY'RE STILL HERE

A MEMOIR

The unexpected responsibilities of being her parents’ full-time caregiver bring a dutiful daughter not only heavy burdens, but new revelations about her family as well.

A phone call from Williams’ half sister Linda signals it’s finally time to help her aging parents pack up and sell their house in Englewood, Florida, and move to her neighborhood in Olympia, Washington, to aid them in their twilight years. So begins this debut memoir, with the methodical Williams, a former dental hygienist used to managing her and her partner Katy’s household and dogs, leaving behind her familiar routines to become a caregiver. The challenge is considerable—though not invalids, her father is almost completely blind, plagued by seizures and breathing problems, and battles PTSD from his service during World War II, while her mother drinks heavily and suffers chronic knee and hip problems. A never-ending list of tasks follows as Williams struggles to improve their lives, from weaning her mom off the booze to finding therapy for her dad’s vision, while coping with a new order of parent/child interdependence. As sudden emergency room visits, prescription management, and an uncertain future for all parties become the norm, Williams’ vow to keep their moods elevated begins sinking her own, with frustration and irritation becoming a state of nigh-constant worry. This anxiety is so pervasive that many other caregivers should immediately recognize it, yet despite this, the engrossing book is largely upbeat. By the author’s own admission, the divide between her parents, right out of Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation,” and her and her boomer siblings was considerable, with alcoholism, infidelity, and political disagreements often aggravating that schism. Yet again ever present in her parents’ lives, amazing stories with captivating details surface, from the deeds both heroic and horrific her father witnessed in the Navy to her mother’s days as a singer, nightclub dancer, and model, along with the poverty both faced growing up in the Depression. The end result is an intimate oral history of a blue-collar, postwar American family revealed by the author in the same touching and heartbreaking manner it was disclosed to her.

Both crushing and uplifting; an account nearly as emotional as the caregiver’s trials it vividly outlines.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-240-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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