A light, enjoyable story about a new Uber driver anxious to absorb some local color.

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STARS IN MY CAR

A Southerner takes a side job as an Uber driver to meet people and discover more about his Tennessee community in this debut memoir.

Grimsley was a 63-year-old living in Knoxville who worked as an employee benefits specialist for a local firm. In his spare time, he performed in an acoustic folk band and narrated e-books, while his wife, Trisha, ran a flourishing petsitting business. Grimsley enjoyed filling up his spare time, so when he heard a co-worker describing Uber, he looked into it. He didn’t need the money, really, but was intrigued by the idea of meeting strangers and learning about their lives. He was approved quickly as a driver and set out in his Hyundai Sonata in a one-year experiment to see what Knoxville’s Uber crowd had in store. University of Tennessee students made up a good deal of his first passengers, and they told tales of drunken parties, fraternity/sorority customs, and ambitious academic plans. The university also brought an international crowd to the city of 180,000 people, such as Onaedo, a Nigerian chemistry student who hoped to become a pharmacist, and Biyu, a Chinese student who was surprised by the unfamiliar appearance of a possum in the road. Many riders were trying to avoid a DUI charge or already had one. In one surprising story, a rider named Austin got a DUI though he wasn’t in a car. As the year progressed, Grimsley got presidential election updates from Fox News Radio, leading one passenger to cry out, “Eeww, Fox News, just like my dad, yuck!” Nevertheless, the author was warming to Donald Trump over his original choice, Marco Rubio. Grimsley writes with a nonjudgmental perspective about his diverse passengers in a series of vignettes, identified here by changed names, and seems genuinely interested in their lives. He respected those who wished to be silent, though toward the end he admits he became pushy in a few instances. He nicely portrays Knoxville as a vibrant city full of determined students, numerous music festivals, fine restaurants, and the odd bacchanalian party down by the river. His dedication to the gig is impressive, even letting it interrupt meals, and he vividly remembers his riders, hoping things will go well for them.

A light, enjoyable story about a new Uber driver anxious to absorb some local color.

Pub Date: March 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-1602-8

Page Count: 206

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: July 17, 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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