Lacks momentum as a novel but delivers an enlightening examination of the mental maladies that plague many.

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THE HIDDEN SECRET

AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THE HAND YOU WERE DEALT WITH!

A fact-based fictional tale presents readers with a gallery of psychological ailments that the characters must confront.

Guy is a prosperous entrepreneur with a side job as a therapist. His clients and friends seem to have only one thing in common: issues. There’s Martha, the elderly woman who for years has lived with regret and a lack of purpose; Gerry, a spirited millionaire who endures the ups and downs of bipolar disorder; and Jennifer, encountering a crisis at work and having an affair with a woman that her husband doesn’t know about. One client in particular, James, seems to be a mirror of Guy, having experienced a traumatic childhood that included his parents’ separation, an abusive boarding school, and molestation by a trusted teacher. Meanwhile, Guy copes with his own predicament as his relationship with his wife deteriorates, culminating in their separation and threatening his treasured relationships with his sons. He is suddenly faced with the bitter reality that he must choose between staying in London, an environment in which he thrives, and remaining close to his sons, who reside in a different city. The final section of the book details Guy’s recovery as he seeks to find balance in his life. Throughout the novel, the plot follows Guy’s psychological state in the usual pattern of exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution; however, the flow is somewhat slow-going, pausing to give more attention to secondary characters and their struggles. Fortunately, Guy’s eventual recovery prevents the story from sinking into despair. With this heartening development, Webster (The Seven Secrets Revealed, 2016, etc.) wraps up the tale in a way that is both practical and motivational. Many readers will likely realize that they are not alone in the obstacles they discover in life. Additionally, some may feel psychologically lifted knowing that, compared to the characters in this yarn, their lives aren’t nearly as chaotic as they thought.

Lacks momentum as a novel but delivers an enlightening examination of the mental maladies that plague many.

Pub Date: June 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5334-0896-9

Page Count: 370

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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