An intriguing but uneven account of a remarkable woman triumphing over adversity.


A debut author chronicles a life spent overcoming family and physical problems, from her childhood in Michigan through her retirement from a notable career at General Motors.

Thomson seemed to know from an early age that she was special. She understood things quicker than her fellow students and she was willing to stand up for herself. These were helpful traits for a girl growing up with a set of fused fingers, a deformed arm, a prosthetic leg, an abusive mother, and an alcoholic father. Her intelligence and determination helped her overcome her social awkwardness and a number of adversities. She left behind her full scholarship to Michigan State University to work on the family freighter. Her adventures included facing a fierce winter storm in the Atlantic and witnessing ocean wonders (“Off the coast of Maryland, I went aft one night and saw phosphorescent algae churned up from the prop off the stern. It was magical—mesmerizing”). Later, she saw the dissolution of her family in Florida. She then bounced around the country, working different jobs before catching on at General Motors and breaking new ground for women in its financial sector. She balanced a booming career, a troublesome marriage, and continuing medical problems. Thomson has a talent for vividly describing a setting—she can remember the furniture in a house, the interior of the family car, and the route she walked to school. But this ability doesn’t extend to the more salient details that would pull a memoir together. The book, which features a few photos, often reads more like a list of events than an exploration of an incredible life. It lacks the particulars that would put readers in the scene and allow them to see what’s happening and feel the weight of it. When recounting her parents’ troubles, she writes: “My parents were gone for a while, replaced by a very stern and unpleasant white-uniformed-with-cap nurse.” They eventually returned, but there is no information about how this happened, the children’s reaction when they first met the nurse, or anything that passed between them.

An intriguing but uneven account of a remarkable woman triumphing over adversity.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5371-3744-5

Page Count: 242

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 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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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 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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