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

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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