A straightforward guide for rolling up your sleeves and being enlightened.


Why Am I?


A reformed underachiever and armchair philosopher puts his thoughts and ideas into action tackling some of life’s biggest existential issues: meaning, purpose and fulfillment.

At a time of profound personal confusion, it didn’t sit well with Whitaker when he was told by his brotherthat, sorry, you’re just “uncoachable.” But when the author’s brother delivered this sobering pronouncement, something moved inside the frustrated entrepreneur and sometimes writer. It spurred him to act, to take stock of his life and to confront the causes of his unhappiness. Whitaker found that it was his entrenched thought patterns, ideas and beliefs about his life that were causing him great pain and suffering. Powerful messages from an insatiable media delivering fear one moment and materialism the next had pummeled Whitaker into submission and set him on a hollow life’s journey that many may find all too familiar. “The story you’ve been forced to read—by your family, friends, the media, the marketers, the retailers, and religion,” he says, is “a churning amalgam of material success pursuits, eternal salvation, hellfire, celebrity worship, lifestyle envy, salving bromides, wedding days, dismaying divorce, apocalyptic distraction, fear-based economics, and age-old wisdom about embracing life’s simple things (meant to stem the rising panic inside).”The author devotes much of his lively narrative to railing against these modern evils—as well as taking aim at organized religion and even unhelpful family and friends—before getting down to work. And hard work is exactly what Whitaker’s approachis all about. At its heart, the author’s debut is a guide for personal growth and reflection, which requires readers to first dig deep into their own psyches in order to formulate a moral code, a values code and an ideals code. With these elemental building blocks in place, Whitaker promises that the meaning of life—or rather, the meaning of your life—will become apparent. “This is one of the most important realizations to embrace,” he says. “The meaning of life is different for everyone, even close friends or family members.” Eschewing whatever possibilities may or may not exist beyond our current life spans, Whitaker instead roots his system for personal and perpetual self-fulfillment in this current reality. The blue-collar approach is one that many earnest self-help seekers will find refreshingly free of supernatural or mystical components. But they must first commit to completing the self-analytical exercises that Whitaker puts forth.

A straightforward guide for rolling up your sleeves and being enlightened.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2014


Page Count: 168

Publisher: Oddward TKE

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2014

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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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