A brave, if harrowing, work that addresses the issues surrounding mental health, treatment, and rehabilitation head-on.

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ONE FAMILY’S JOURNEY THROUGH TEEN ADDICTION

A despairing mother and a defiant teenage daughter confront drug addiction in Burrowes’ debut memoir.

In the years leading up to tenth grade, Hannah Burrowes lived a happy, healthy life with her family. By the time she was 15, though, she’d progressed from “moody to malicious,” according to her mother, the author of this memoir. A self-proclaimed outsider, unimpressed by her “Mean Barbie” classmates, she gravitated toward the art-fueled scene of downtown Santa Cruz, California, where she was enthralled by what she calls its “wave of weirdness.” The memoir goes on to relate how the teen’s recreational drug use spiraled into a full-blown, life-threatening addiction, involving regular use of Ecstasy, OxyContin, and psychedelics. The deterioration of her relationship with her family became such that her mother lived in fear of her, and in time, she was sent off to a tough residential rehabilitation program in Utah, where she would face a brutally cold winter. It’s a desperate story of teen addiction, punctuated by misdiagnosis, overdose, and rehabilitation. In the memoir’s foreword, Burrowes writes: “During our two years of treatment, I learned that there can be more than one truth, more than one way of thinking.” This revelation shapes the structure of the narrative, as each event is examined from both the mother’s and daughter’s perspectives. It effectively reveals the voice of a scared mom questioning her approach to parenting (“all I find are the taunts of an oppositional teenager and my angry words. Did I miss something? What have I done?”) and that of an equally frightened, confused young girl who lost control: “I really don’t know how many pills I took, I don’t fucking know how drinking or taking E makes lithium stronger, but they keep telling me it does and that I’m screwed.” As a result, the ugly anatomy of addiction is laid bare, using plain, unadulterated language drawn from the rawness of personal experience. Those facing similar challenges will find courage and hope in this informative memoir’s outcome.

A brave, if harrowing, work that addresses the issues surrounding mental health, treatment, and rehabilitation head-on.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-467-7

Page Count: 312

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: May 15, 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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