Self-assured, daring writing that holds nothing back.




A writer of American and Iraqi heritage recalls growing up in the mid-20th-century American Midwest.

Kane’s debut memoir opens in Neosho, Missouri, in 1938. Her mother, Doris Hisaw, was 17 years old and had a part-time job working in a local grocery store. Some 9,000 miles away in Basra, Iraq, the author’s father, 27-year-old Nejib Tooni, and his brother Kamil were given 500 British pounds and told by their father to travel to America to find wives. Within hours of meeting Doris in Neosho, Nejib asked for her hand in marriage. Doris’ parents forbade the relationship, but, unable to contain their desire, the couple decided to elope. There was a misunderstanding with the FBI—Doris’ mother had apparently told them that Nejib intended to kidnap Doris and make her a part of his harem back home—a story that made national news. But soon, the two made the long journey to Iraq. This incredible story forms a dramatic prelude to the author’s recollection of her early childhood; she lived with her family in Basra before they returned to Neosho as World War II raged in Europe and the South Pacific. The small town had changed dramatically during their six-year absence; it was now filled with girls wearing blue jeans and “bobbysoxers” swooning over Frank Sinatra, and the author says that she felt “dowdy” in comparison. The memoir charts Kane’s coming-of-age, which included early curiosity about sexual matters followed by an extended period of latency before she began to date boys. As an adult, Kane secured a job in New York City working for Time magazine. Her sense of achievement was somewhat shaken, however, when her father unexpectedly slapped her across the face one day for calling him “mean.” Kane is a devastatingly honest writer, and her memoir often shares deeply confidential and personal details. In one scene during her recounting of her childhood, for example, Kane describes playing “hospital” at the age of 7 with her young friend in graphic detail; very few writers possess the nerve to explore precocious sexual urges in such a candid manner. She also addresses her complex relationship with her parents, and she confides how, in later life, she contemplated suicide. Over several years, she says, she compiled a list of reasons to stay alive: “I labored over this list of mysteries for consideration,” she says, which included “curiosity,” “beauty,” and “love.” Kane also displays an unwavering faith in the power of words, which, in her case, became a tool for survival. There’s a great sense of positivity and hope to be found when Kane writes: “I learned that I did not have to live: I chose to live.” The author’s somewhat conservative reportage of her parents’ courtship is less captivating, and it pales in comparison to the dazzling, florid, and profound confessional that follows it. Still, this minor flaw detracts little from a sharply written and fascinatingly introspective work.

Self-assured, daring writing that holds nothing back.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 357

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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