A heartfelt, inspiring, and deeply moving chronology of substance abuse and enduring, unconditional familial love.

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SAVING BOBBY

HEROES AND HEROIN IN ONE SMALL COMMUNITY

A woman faces drug addiction when it arrives on her doorstep in the form of family.

As a wife and mother of three children, the North Carolina author knew how important support, guidance, and unconditional love were to a child. Her parental courageousness was put to the test when her brother John shared a serious issue involving his 29-year-old son, Bobby, who became addicted to back pain medication in college and then moved on to heroin. Years spent in and out of rehabilitation facilities had worn Bobby down, and now he was on the streets and feeling suicidal. In 2013, Hodges (co-author: The Triangle Home Book, 1989) welcomed him into her and her husband Will’s home and embarked on a year that proved to be one of the couple’s greatest and most emotionally challenging periods. When a close friend lost her own son to an overdose, the reality of Hodges’ family situation hit home. Despite becoming buoyed by regular contact with her psychologist, the author struggled to relate to Bobby’s late-night pacing, emotional immaturity, the staggering amount of physician-prescribed, mood-altering medications he took daily, and his sky-high drug tolerance that made a scheduled colonoscopy impossible. Throughout the stirring memoir, Hodges deftly weaves in personal impressions about her life, her checkered past with her brother, and her strained marriage to Will. She notes that she considered herself blessed and “privileged,” which made her sense of empathy and compassion for others heightened, especially when Bobby began to open up emotionally to her in the early stages of his stay with her and Will. As days turned to weeks, Hodges soothed her anxiety around Bobby by enacting house rules that restricted him from stealing, lying, and using drugs but that also proactively offered direction, purpose, and tools for his much-needed stabilization. In her richly detailed account, the author recalls her myriad reactions to Bobby’s plight. Lacking experience in caring for an addict, Hodges was initially hopeful but soon became exhausted with the obsessive push and pull of drug compulsion and fragmented emotions that had become her nephew’s sole existence. Bobby’s eventual relapse and sudden departure took her by surprise but seemed somehow necessary in order to bring them closer together. Her ordeal is strikingly personal and lyrically told through emails (to herself, therapeutically, as well as to others), narration, drug-related articles, and bittersweet memories of her own history of trying to come to terms with a formerly close-knit family that fractured after her father died. “Addiction is exhausting and relentless,” she writes in a poignant section pondering the emotional and physical toll drug abuse had taken on her entire family. Hodges’ bracing year with Bobby ended on an upbeat note as her nephew took the initiative to embrace a fulfilling life structured around work, school, and recovery. The author closes her engrossing story with sobering facts and useful resource materials on the drug abuse epidemic suffocating the nation.

A heartfelt, inspiring, and deeply moving chronology of substance abuse and enduring, unconditional familial love.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-375-5

Page Count: 349

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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 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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