A zippy, unabashed narrative confronting personal adversity with an equal mix of humor and sincerity.

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I'M FINE...AND OTHER LIES

A witty memoir detailing the misfortunes of a Hollywood comedian, actor, and writer.

Dedicated to the voices in her head who told her she could never write a book, Cummings’ debut offers what she deems is “a whole book’s worth of yummy, humiliating schadenfreude” as well as “mortifying situations that’ll make you feel way better about your own choices.” It’s an extremely self-deprecating assault on a laundry list of proclivities, insecurities, and intimate fears many readers will easily relate to. A problematic journey along the “yellow brick road of healers” results in a few opening chapters rife with ineffective therapists, pointed neuroses, and a bold admittance of chronic co-dependency, about which the author wrote in Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s newsletter, inspiring the book. Cummings writes about the misogyny of the stand-up comedy industry (and its audiences), her perfectionist tendencies, egg freezing, her 15-year struggle with anorexia (which included bouts of “sleep eating”), a surprise scoliosis diagnosis, and a horrifying attack by her pet pit bull. While all of these situations had disastrous potential, the author takes the sting out of each with deflective humor and straight-up honesty, humility, and a keen sense of humanity. Akin to the inner-critical narrative voice of Amy Schumer, Cummings’ observations expectedly tackle the uncomfortable and the embarrassing, including a somewhat overanalyzed encounter with drunk guys in a Las Vegas hotel hallway and an illuminating cross-cultural lesson with Middle Eastern women about wearing headscarves. Occasionally, the author brushes up against some painful truths that even she seems surprised to have publicly admitted, such as her debilitating issues with body dysmorphia and self-esteem. After years of anxiety and denial about everything from heckled stand-up gigs to asymmetrical breasts, Cummings seems content that she can now openly admit that becoming truly happy and satisfied with life is a continuous work in progress.

A zippy, unabashed narrative confronting personal adversity with an equal mix of humor and sincerity.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1260-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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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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