In My Own Words

A sudden accident forces a young man to rediscover basic skills, his family, and his religion.

Written in two parts, the first having been published as Ten Seconds in 2013, Goodrich’s memoir recounts how he was coming home to change after a baseball game when a stumble on the stairs resulted in a fractured skull and a 10-day coma. The seemingly simple accident robbed him of basic motor functions and left him with the devastating memory of being surrounded by his family in the hospital, unable to call out to them and feeling as if he was “going to be buried alive.” After major surgery, Goodrich awoke to a world where he could barely recognize his own family and had to endure grueling therapies. He describes them as not just frustrating, but “humiliating,” as he grappled with being a grown man who needed to relearn words like “cat” and “house.” The second, and previously unpublished, portion of the memoir follows Goodrich as he struggled to let go of the “security blanket” of the hospital and return to his parents’ home, overwhelmed by a mixture of joy for their welcome and fear that they remained largely unfamiliar to him. As time went on, Goodrich slowly became more comfortable, eventually returning to work, meeting his wife, having two children, and developing a strong faith in God. In telling his story, Goodrich has a tendency to overemphasize unnecessary information, relating extensive medical explanations and tiny details from the scenes he re-creates. When those scenes of nonrecognition and personal struggle get going, however, they can be candid, heartbreaking, and exceptionally insightful. His lucid descriptions often reveal an unexpected range of emotions that go far beyond the expected despair or determination found in similar stories. Overall, Goodrich manages to make the seemingly outlandish concept of amnesia feel powerfully real and the rather ordinary process of physical therapy feel fraught with complexities—a notable achievement. An inspirational story of recovery from a terrible injury that embraces complexity to great effect.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5320-0094-2

Page Count: 180

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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