A palpable and invigorating book mapping one woman’s lifelong efforts to discover her own sexual identity through...

Going to Wings

A debut memoir charts conflicts of sexuality and faith and the longing for companionship.

The book opens in 1975 with Worsham rereading a letter she wrote to her mother confessing to a romantic relationship with another woman: “Mama, I have been in touch with Ellen again.” Dealing with an unfulfilling marriage to her husband, Harvill, the author experienced a sexual and psychic revelation when she started a surreptitious affair with another female teacher at her high school. But to her husband and mother, “I was a sick person with something disgusting, something like leprosy, something with sores that eat away at your body, something that eats you from the inside out.” Once their relationship was discovered, Worsham was threatened with institutionalization and forced to break it off. She divorced Harvill and began pursuing platonic friendships with other women. One was with an older woman who offered copies of Proust’s books and shared exotic tales from abroad, helping to expand Worsham’s worldview beyond her conservative Georgia town. But after her friend self-destructed (due to alcoholism), Worsham turned to her church choir and teaching life to guide her. Later, another woman, named Teeny, provided a meaningful platonic bond, one that made Worsham realize that her sexual orientation need not solely define her. Given the two friends’ closeness, many townsfolk suspected that they were lovers. Eventually, after enjoying several nonsexual bonds with other women, Worsham came out, finding solidarity in a lesbian group that met at a local restaurant called Wings. The memoir proves to be a rich and insightful account into the struggles that many members of the LGBT community face in navigating the heavy emotional terrain of faith, loneliness, and self-acceptance (“I thought that I, not other people, should be the one to decide my own sexual orientation,” Worsham writes). This is mostly owed to the way the author so deeply mines her own emotional history while simultaneously weaving religious references—such as “the Telling” for when she outs herself to her mother, as though the experience is a kind of biblical parable—to signal the many momentous rites of passage LGBT community members experience in their own journeys of self-discovery. Vividly interrogating these themes, this lesbian-specific memoir is a very welcome addition to the genre.

A palpable and invigorating book mapping one woman’s lifelong efforts to discover her own sexual identity through Christianity and friendship. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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