A quietly brooding and intense memoir of family and reckoning with the past.

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THE DAY THAT WENT MISSING

A FAMILY'S STORY

A British novelist and nonfiction writer’s account of his struggle to come to terms with the death of a younger brother that his family never fully acknowledged.

In the summer of 1978, Beard (Acts of the Assassins, 2015, etc.) and his family went on a holiday to Cornwall. During their time there, his 9-year-old brother Nicholas died in a drowning accident, which the author witnessed. Instead of mourning his death, however, the family sought refuge in “an epic level of denial.” Neither Beard nor his two other brothers attended the funeral. In the weeks and years that followed, Nicholas’ name was expunged from all conversations and mementos, including a clock that bore an engraved list of all family members except Beard’s dead brother. For almost 40 years the author experienced an anguish he could not understand and that only deepened over time. Desperate to make peace with the incident and his role in it, he began a scrupulously detailed, emotionally wrenching exploration of the events surrounding the tragedy. Both he and Nicholas had been playing together on a remote beach when an undertow swept both away from the beach. Rather than try to save his brother, Beard decided to save only himself. Unrelenting guilt drove him to examine family documents, maps, and newspaper clippings and interview family members, the officials at Nicholas’ school, and those involved in the recovery of Nicholas’ body. It also forced him to probe his own past and present feelings toward Nicholas, feelings that ran the gamut from affection to jealous disdain. In a moment of disturbingly profound insight, he realized that the reason he and his family “refused to believe [that Nicholas] needed his home and family [was] because we’d blocked out those needs in ourselves.” Meticulously crafted and searingly honest, Beard’s narrative is at once a story about the long and difficult road to self-forgiveness and a commentary on the wages of British emotional repression.

A quietly brooding and intense memoir of family and reckoning with the past.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-44538-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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 eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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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

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