A moving, bittersweet account of enduring love.

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PAINT YOUR HAIR BLUE

A debut memoir chronicles a girl’s battle to survive—and her joy, despite the odds.

The authors tell the story of 11-year-old Taylor’s courageous five-year cancer fight. With three daughters and lucrative careers, Matthews (Taylor’s mom) and her beloved husband seemed to have it all. But in 2003, Taylor was diagnosed with bone cancer. Though she died at age 16, this poignant account—told from Matthews’ first-person point of view—is more about living than dying. A bright, vivacious girl, Taylor often kept her family laughing with her high-spirited sense of humor. By 16, she had undergone 16 surgeries, but instead of dwelling on the negative, feisty Taylor—who lived life to the fullest—advised a cancer patient “to dye her hair pink or a combination of all her favorite colors.” According to Matthews and Cohane (Taylor’s aunt), treatments for the teenager’s type of cancer have not changed in decades. In addition, they assert, all pediatric cancers receive only about 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s budget. A creative girl, Taylor founded a nonprofit group called tay-bandz, which has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research. Today, the organization bears Taylor’s name. In this touching memoir, Matthews’ authentic voice is likable, and she gives an honest account of a mother’s desperation (sometimes she screamed at doctors). The smooth prose sprinkles in vivid details that accurately reflect a caregiver’s fear and exhaustion. In one heart-rending scene, Matthews recalls sitting in a bright yellow waiting room, staring at children’s artwork on the walls. She was tired and terrified, but she kept a frozen smile on her face for Taylor’s sake. And though the authors are not highly critical of doctors or specialists, they paint a realistic portrait of human error. According to the book, an anesthesiologist who didn’t check Taylor’s allergies before an operation caused a dangerous complication. The volume, which features family photographs, concludes with a list of practical, in-the-trenches advice, like insisting on being in the recovery room when a child wakes up. Though some of the anecdotes may be horrifying for readers who are beginning a struggle with cancer, Taylor’s short life spreads rays of hope for the future.

A moving, bittersweet account of enduring love.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68350-727-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2018

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

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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

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