This illuminating coming-of-age account chronicles a young woman’s counterculture journey.

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The daughter of working-class Connecticut parents seeks to escape the trap of conventional society by running away to California in this memoir.

Dukett was barely 16 years old in 1971 when she and her 21-year-old sister, Anne, packed up a few belongings. They jumped in the car with Anne’s boyfriend, Eddie, to drive from South Windsor, Connecticut, to California, where a free and easy life beckoned. Though she had some empathy for her parents, the author, like many of her generation, felt constrained by their caution and conservatism and the limited options of their lives. Long-haired hippies and sunny California seemed to offer unlimited freedom and opportunity. Dukett gave barely a backward glance to her hometown as she, Anne, and Eddie hit the road: “Let them eat their hearts out, wishing they were free like us.” Walking in the hippie mecca of Venice Beach, the sisters met Ed, an older man, who became protector and predator. It was a fitting introduction to a life that was both carefree and precarious, existing on the edge of poverty in a haze of marijuana and idealistic aspirations to a soundtrack of folk-rock music seemingly written just for the siblings. Over the next three years, the author followed the counterculture dream to Boston, Canada, and a commune in New York, stuffing loads of experiences and growing self-awareness into a short time. Dukett’s revealing memoir effectively captures the restless disillusionment of many members of the generation that came of age during the ’60s and ’70s. She is particularly articulate about the sexism that permeated hippie culture and the lifeline that the women’s liberation movement offered to young female adults who had been demeaned by a “free love” ethos that frequently meant exploitation and rape. If readers occasionally become exasperated with the author’s self-destructive choices, there is much to applaud in her process of self-discovery.

This illuminating coming-of-age account chronicles a young woman’s counterculture journey. (acknowledgements, about the author, suggested discussion questions for readers)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-856-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2020

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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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