Raw and unflinching: a powerful argument against conversion therapy as well as for the healing power of memoir.

READ REVIEW

THE INHERITANCE OF SHAME

A MEMOIR

The author exposes the wounds of his youth and how the therapy he sought out to heal them caused even graver harm.

“Remembering this brings me peace,” concludes Canadian writer Gajdics in his debut memoir, which lays bare the psychological fallout from personal trauma most everyone close to him urged him to forget. The youngest child raised in a strict Catholic household, at age 6 he was sexually abused by a stranger in a school bathroom. Though Gajdics was plagued by nightmares and panic attacks, his mother’s stoicism and father’s domineering demeanor prevented him from sharing his trauma. Prior to immigrating to Canada, both his Eastern European parents had survived the ravages of World War II at great cost: the author’s mother spent 34 months in labor and death camps, and his father lost his family early on; both looked to pass onto their children an unquestioning faith and silence as coping mechanisms. As he grew up, the author’s pain and guilt resulting from the abuse and its repression were only compounded as he realized he was gay. Turning to sex as a means of escape, Gajdics was soon ostracized by his family and left Vancouver to pursue writing. In 1989, seeking to quell his inner turmoil, Gajdics had the misfortune of being referred to Dr. Alfonzo, a crackpot clinician who believed he would “revolutionize the field of psychiatry by being the first psychiatrist to find a cure for homosexuality.” Much of the power of the author’s courageous account derives from his unsparing depiction of the years of horrifyingly degrading “primal therapy” that rendered him “an emotional bulimic,” his body “an earthquake” he felt “trapped inside,” as Alfonzo stripped him of his autonomy with an unorthodox, toxic mix of psychotropic drugs. Writing through his slow recovery not only led to Gajdics’ self-acceptance, but also helped his parents to open up about the atrocities of their childhoods as well.

Raw and unflinching: a powerful argument against conversion therapy as well as for the healing power of memoir.

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941932-08-7

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Brown Paper Press

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

OPEN BOOK

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

Did you like this book?

more