Thorough, if dry, recollections from a guru’s follower.

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KNOCKING AT THE OPEN DOOR

A debut philosophical memoir describes the life of a spiritual thinker’s devotee.

A child of sunny Santa Barbara, California, in the 1950s, Lee began to ask the big questions early on: “What had stirred in me was an awareness that there is a very great and unexplainable and forceful otherworld presence in life that is ever present, just here—close and intimate—but seldom manifest.” Disenchanted by the limitations of Christianity from an early age, he discovered meditation on his own, though he had no word for it. Introduced to the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti by a friend, Lee had the opportunity to meet the guru at a talk in Switzerland in 1965 and quickly became one of his most devoted followers. Lee recalls: “When Krishnamurti entered the tent and took his place on the platform…I thought he was the most elegant and intelligent person I had ever seen.” Over the next half-century, Lee served as a teacher, administrator, and trustee in various schools and foundations dedicated to the teachings of Krishnamurti, a celebrated speaker and author—born in India—who hoped to reform society through a revolution in human consciousness. With this book, Lee recounts the lessons he learned as an associate of the thinker as well as his encounters with other luminaries of the time, including Indira Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. Lee, a serviceable writer, records his memories in clear prose that makes even the more abstract philosophical notions comprehensible. For those seriously interested in the life and teachings of Krishnamurti, the book represents a valuable resource regarding the inner workings of his movement. Even so, it is an arid read. Lee does not have much critical to say of his mentor, and there is little in the way of dynamism or a narrative arc. For all the discussion of the man’s teachings (along with some of Lee’s extrapolations), those unfamiliar with Krishnamurti are unlikely to become adherents. Readers with any passing familiarity with New Age movements will likely be left wondering just what all the fuss was about.

Thorough, if dry, recollections from a guru’s follower.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-6504-8

Page Count: 306

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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