A courageously intimate memoir about living within a body that has “never felt at ease.”

READ REVIEW

SICK

A MEMOIR

A distinguished Iranian-born writer and creative writing professor’s memoir of her struggle with trauma, drug addiction, mental illness, and late-stage Lyme disease.

Physical and mental pain had always defined Khakpour’s (The Last Illusion, 2014, etc.) life. A child of the Iranian Revolution, her earliest memories were of “pure anxiety.” She survived the trauma of living in a war zone and moved from Tehran to Los Angeles. As she grew into adolescence, she writes, “everything about my body felt wrong,” and her feelings of dysmorphia remained one of the constants in an often chaotic life. In college, Khakpour, who had long been fascinated by the “altered states” that drugs could produce, began a “casual [long-term] relationship” with cocaine and cultivated the “heroin chic” look fashionable during the 1990s. In addition to her experimentation with drugs, the author endured harrowing experiences with sexual assault and depression. Khakpour’s post-collegiate life brought with it a series of difficult, sometimes-abusive relationships, graduate school at Johns Hopkins, psychotropic drugs to control anxiety, insomnia, and mood disorders, severe health problems initially diagnosed as autoimmune disorders, and “a seesaw of struggling to survive in New York and then running home to LA and then escaping back to New York.” Her life stabilized for a short time after she accepted a temporary position at Bucknell University. When her health began to fail again, she sought treatment in the New Age “healing vortex” of Santa Fe; but soon after she left, she once again became a prescription pill “drug addict.” It was not until she returned temporarily to California that a doctor officially diagnosed her with a case of late-stage Lyme disease, which would mean permanent recurrences of the breakdowns she had fought to overcome. Lucid, eloquent, and unflinchingly honest, Khakpour’s book is not just about a woman’s relationship to illness, but also a remarkably trenchant reflection on personal and human frailty.

A courageously intimate memoir about living within a body that has “never felt at ease.”

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-242873-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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