Patient narratives are a growing genre, and not all end happily. Potter’s has that positive aspect as well as illustrating...

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PATIENT H69

THE STORY OF MY SECOND SIGHT

A stunning account of the onset of a form of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, a rare autoimmune disorder that can cause sudden blindness and paralysis.

Broadcast producer Potter developed her illness after a bout of flu that left her feeling strange. The weirdness turned terrifying as her visual world shrank to a brown haze and then total blackness while her extremities developed a spreading numbness and her feet turned ice-cold. In the span of a couple days, she was hospitalized (H69 is the beginning of her insurance ID) and subject to multiple tests, but the doctors could find nothing wrong with her eyes. The problem was damage to the optic nerve and the spinal cord by her immune system. Treatment included injections of steroids and cleansing her blood of the destructive antibodies. Doctors assured her that she would recover, albeit slowly. Here, Potter’s personality as a go-getter, a fighter, a creative producer, and a meditator comes into play, as she delivers well-written daily recordings of her fears and frustrations caused by her total dependence on others. As promised, however, there was progress, and that story is fascinating. First, Potter began to see vertical lines and edges but only in black and white and in two dimensions; colors were the last to appear, with, in her case, some odd crossing over with the sense of touch. Though she left the hospital after two weeks, it was another year before she was back to reasonable mobility—and she still suffered from somewhat hazy vision. Potter used this time to ask scientists to explain vision but also to develop an idea for a science fair exhibit in which participants are wired to record their brain waves and have them translated into color patterns and musical sounds.

Patient narratives are a growing genre, and not all end happily. Potter’s has that positive aspect as well as illustrating one woman’s way of coping with a disease that touches on universal fears: blindness and paralysis.

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4729-3610-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury Sigma

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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