TALE OF A SKY-BLUE DRESS

A MEMOIR

An elegant, forthright exploration of the effects of evil on a fragile life—the author’s. Moss (English/Univ. of Michigan), a MacArthur-winning poet, was barely five when she first met her demon: a girl in a sky-blue dress named Lytta Dorsey. After the Dorsey family moved into the apartment just below her parents— own in Cleveland, Lytta offered to babysit the young Thylias, initiating a reign of terror that lasted for years. Emotionally disturbed and evidently a blossoming sadist, the older girl dominated the younger, abusing her charge with increasing fervor until her attacks culminated in a rape of the little girl. Moss told no one at the time, distancing herself not only from her loving, unsuspecting parents but also from herself and her body. The effects of her silence were long-term and profound: Lytta’s cruelty was later mimicked by a succession of men while Moss was still in her early teens. Now, aided by the strength of perspective and the power of language, she revisits her past in order to examine her own silence and the formative effect of her trauma on her identity as a writer. Although her story is undeniably grim, it concerns victimization less than the dangerous interplay between life and death, creativity and destruction. Moss even suggests that she wouldn—t be who she is were it not for her intimate knowledge of evil, oppression, and pain. —I am not saying accept torment and tyranny—no,— she writes, ’stop such forces if at all possible, but if those forces persist, as I believe they will, splendor, however muted its form, can help console, can help one plot and execute escape.— Her escape—aided by a gentle, prescient man who fell in love with her when she was 16 and later married her—is remarkable. A stylish, well-wrought memoir that forgoes self-pity for redemption.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-380-97550-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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