A candid testimony of struggle and achievement.

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A MEMOIR

A debut memoir that traces an unlikely trajectory from isolation and poverty to financial success and hard-won self-knowledge.

In a book that reads more like oral history than crafted narrative, Sana recounts the forces that shaped his identity as an African-American. Born Bernard Sutton in 1968, Sana grew up in inner-city Washington, D.C., in a neighborhood dominated by gangs and drugs. He was raised by a single mother who suffered from mental illness so severe that she could not work, and even as a young teenager, Sana looked for ways to supplement his mother’s Social Security checks. Although he saw his friends making money through drug sales and robbery, he refused to get involved. Instead, he loaded grocery bags for tips and worked as a cook at a fast-food restaurant. Earning his own money, writes the author, “gave me a sense of pride.” Despite financial straits, his mother made sure that he went to the best schools possible and pushed him to do well. He attended Gonzaga, a prestigious high school where the student body was largely white and college bound. The transition from his crumbling African-American neighborhood caused “a lot of culture shock” that resulted in altercations with classmates. But a combination of grit, intelligence, and teachers’ encouragement fueled his determination. School became an escape route: Sana attended Mount Saint Mary’s College, where he discovered Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X, whose books exerted a great impact on his changing consciousness. He became passionately interested in African-American history and culture, which led to his adopting an African name. After graduating magna cum laude with a degree in business and accounting, he worked at an accounting firm and also joined a friend to sell books like the ones that had influenced him. Their hard work led to the establishment of a thriving chain of bookstores, Karibu Books. Sana’s personal life was difficult, and he is forthright about the sexual and emotional problems that beset his relationships with women and the tumultuous losses that afforded him new insight into his identity.

A candid testimony of struggle and achievement.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57284-192-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Agate

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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

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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