Death comes to all of us; these authentic stories show how it can be met with strength and grace instead of fear.

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DEAR LIFE

A DOCTOR'S STORY OF LOVE AND LOSS

End-of-life stories from a palliative care doctor.

When she was growing up, Clarke loved to listen to her physician father tell stories about his patients, many of which taught her “a different, quieter style of doctoring in which medicine perhaps achieved less yet was kinder and more humane.” Following those lessons, when she became a doctor, she chose palliative care. “I use my training and skills,” she writes, “specifically to help people with a terminal illness live what remains of their lives as fully as possible, and to die with dignity and comfort....Rarely, if ever, does a week go by in which all of my patients survive.” In this fascinating and often moving narrative, which features sometimes graphic details, Clarke gives readers an inside view into the life of the terminally ill and those who attend to them in hospice. Make no mistake: Reading about death page after page will bring tears to even the most hardened readers, but the author’s empathetic approach leads to a clear understanding of death that most don’t receive until facing the prospect themselves. Clarke also intertwines her own tales of near-death experiences and of her father’s terminal cancer, and her unwavering sincerity and honesty reflect the profundity of life and dignified death. “In a hospice,” she writes, “…there is more of what matters—more love, more strength, more kindness, more smiles, more dignity, more joy, more tenderness, more grace, more compassion—than you could ever imagine. I work in a world that thrums with life. My patients teach me all I need to know about living.” Clarke’s message is especially timely as we continue to face a global pandemic, and she also includes practical advice on end-of-life preparations and helpful notes about relevant resources.

Death comes to all of us; these authentic stories show how it can be met with strength and grace instead of fear.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76451-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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