A captivating story of love lost and found.

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FROM SCRATCH

A MEMOIR OF LOVE, SICILY, AND FINDING HOME

In her literary debut, actor and TEDx speaker Locke offers a warm memoir of romance, wrenching loss, and healing.

Studying in Florence for a semester abroad, the author met Saro, a handsome Sicilian chef, whose sincerity and kindness, as well as “sultry” good looks, won her heart. “I think we could be something great,” he told her, conjuring “a vision of an us and greatness so effortlessly that it suddenly seemed as right as butter on bread. I was taken aback by his boldness, his certainty.” When Locke returned to college, Saro visited as often as he could, and finally he left his position, prospects, and—most wrenchingly—his family to move to the United States. They married hastily in New York with only a friend as witness; at a later celebration in Italy, though, his family refused to attend, disapproving of Saro’s marrying anyone but a Sicilian—especially a black American woman. Soon the author understood why Saro put off to the last minute telling his parents that he was leaving Italy to marry. Locke’s family, on the other hand, “progressive, barrier-breaking Texas black folks,” were delighted—especially her father: Boisterous and gregarious, he arrived in Italy dressed “in full Texas regalia, complete with cowboy hat, denim pants, and alligator boots.” Her family wholeheartedly “claimed him as their own,” while Saro’s family’s disapproval haunted the early years of their marriage. Locke portrays their life together as otherwise idyllic: They moved from New York to Los Angeles in order to foster her acting career, and they adopted an infant daughter—until Saro's diagnosis with a rare cancer changed everything. By then, the couple’s relationship with Saro’s parents had thawed somewhat, and when Locke and her daughter returned to Sicily to bury Saro’s ashes, they were nurtured—not only spiritually and emotionally, but with traditional, and abundant, Sicilian food. The author includes recipes at the end.

A captivating story of love lost and found.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8765-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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