Despite some repetition, deft pacing and vivid portraits result in an absorbing mystery and a forthright memoir of abiding...

READ REVIEW

AFTER THE ECLIPSE

A MOTHER'S MURDER, A DAUGHTER'S SEARCH

In an accomplished debut memoir, a daughter struggles to understand the life of her mother, who was murdered when the author was 12.

An only child, Perry became a problem for her relatives: her unstable grandmother, aunts who lived near and far, and a father who had left her mother years before and willingly gave up parental rights. In the immediate aftermath of the murder, Perry was questioned relentlessly by the police, who intimated that she was somehow complicit in the murder: she must have seen something, or she must have known the killer whom she was protecting. She was haunted by the murder and fearful that the killer would return to murder her, too. Shuttled between relatives in Maine, she finally ended up in Texas, where her mother’s sister Tootsie was stationed with the Army. When Tootsie suddenly and harshly sent her back to Maine, she was taken in by her former babysitter, who claimed to have been her mother’s best friend, a woman incapable of understanding Perry’s emotional state. “My sadness was overwhelmed by fear and visceral disgust and rage,” writes the author, “rage so consuming and aimless that sometimes I was afraid of myself.” At one point, she considered suicide; instead, she deliberately tamped down her feelings. An unsympathetic psychologist concluded that her “effort at control” was “sinister,” indicating that she was somehow involved in her mother’s death. The killer—a man her mother may have known—was apprehended and convicted 12 years after the crime, but the information disclosed during the trial only made her mother more mysterious to Perry. Two TV dramas later documented the case, but the author felt the story was unfinished, inspiring her quest to understand her mother’s life, the series of volatile men she lived with, her community’s culture of violence, and her family’s deep wounds.

Despite some repetition, deft pacing and vivid portraits result in an absorbing mystery and a forthright memoir of abiding grief.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-30265-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more