An affecting portrayal of caring for a terminally ill spouse.

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MORE LOVE, LESS FEAR

A LOVE STORY ABOUT A HUSBAND, A WIFE, AND THE DEADLY DISEASE OF ALS.

A husband’s account of his wife’s courageous battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease—and his joys and sorrows as her primary caregiver.

The inspiration for Lee’s debut memoir began when his wife, Terri, began extensively researching amyotrophic lateral sclerosis after her diagnosis with the disease. Lee met Terri in his native Jamaica in 1988, and the couple, both in their 30s, instantly hit it off. They married in 1990 and had two sons. Their family life was idyllic until Terri began experiencing a strange loss of coordination in her early 40s. Lee carefully maps the 12-year progression of Terri’s ALS—from her dropping things to using a walker to becoming wheelchair-bound. Against doctors’ advice, he refused to put her in a nursing facility. Lee was highly sensitive to his wife’s emotions, and he tried to make her feel attractive, even while he performed medical tasks. Lee also candidly reveals his failings, such as the times he made Terri wait for something she needed while he watched television, and the resulting regret as well as his recognition of his own extreme exhaustion. Throughout it all, his connection with his wife intensified: “It had gotten to the point where I would just know, somehow, exactly what she needed and when. I could literally look at her and feel that her left forearm needed to be rubbed, or that the spot on her head just above her ear needed to be scratched.” He movingly renders his bleakest moments, like the time he caught Terri online researching suicide, and his triumphs, such as helping her alleviate some symptoms with a healthy diet. Terri regained her ability to communicate when the ALS Association loaned her a free DynaVox Eyemax computer, which she also used to say her final goodbyes. The memoir moves quickly, and Lee’s prose is effective and unadorned: “To this day I can’t remember what she wore, or whether she sat or remained standing. I remember only her smile.” Those who are new to ALS may find a chapter on “Health Tips and Observations” helpful.

An affecting portrayal of caring for a terminally ill spouse.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1504325288

Page Count: 236

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2015

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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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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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