A spirited pursuit of the spiritual, impolite but incisive.



This far-ranging spiritual memoir reveals the author’s dramatic search for spiritual enlightenment in places like Auschwitz and Hoboken, N.J., on a route that diverges from the conventional spiritual path.

Androsiglio has a PhD in clinical psychology, but in this slangy monologue he’s concerned less with an intellectual immersion in psychology than with his apparently unquenchable thirst for spiritual knowledge. Two opposing energies follow Androsiglio throughout his spiritual journey: self-hatred (manifested in alcoholism and joyless promiscuity) and an instructive friendship with the unconventional Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast. The monk helps Androsiglio overcome bouts of masochistic behavior by offering a gentle form of Christian mysticism that emphasizes self-forgiveness and an appreciation for life and the lessons it teaches us. Where needed, Androsiglio employs his psychoanalytic skills—mainly to analyze the effects of the sexual and verbal abuse inflicted upon him as a child by his emotionally volatile father. But most of Androsiglio’s memoir records a relentless quest for the spiritual meaning of his life. While absorbing David’s teaching, Androsiglio looks for additional guidance from all over the globe—a Peruvian shaman, a Hindu teacher of erotically charged yoga and the Dalai Lama. “My personality thrived on the exotic,” Androsiglio writes. After indulging in a variety of Latin American and Asian spiritual systems, he even visits the gas chambers of Auschwitz and his former family home in Hoboken, N.J., to confront the extremes of suffering—people versus personal. The eponymous butterfly symbolically represents Androsiglio’s delicate soul, and everyone’s. Whether a reader finds pleasure or pain in this account will depend on valuing it as a curious soul’s flitting with mystical exoticism, or as the heartfelt odyssey of a passionate spiritualist soaring toward nirvana. Plenty of political opinions and snap character judgments of family, friends and gurus all serve to distract from Androsiglio’s answer.

A spirited pursuit of the spiritual, impolite but incisive.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463744656

Page Count: 348

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2012

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...


Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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