A breezy collection of tell-all stories about the trials of raising children that can feel dashed off but often hits its...



In 30 vignettes, the author relates her wacky experiences raising two young daughters.

As the mother of two preternaturally spunky girls, Dineen (The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, 2016, etc.) has her hands full vacuuming up Legos, answering her daughters’ probing questions about adult body parts, and shuttling them between Costco’s restrooms and the food court. Not to mention the travails she endured during her pregnancies: several miscarriages and devastating postpartum depression. The author relates her struggles to keep fit and put together while juggling motherhood with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor about how much of a shambles she is. She navigates the treacherous waters of child-rearing with hilarity: considering whether to curse around the kids, scolding them when they yell out inappropriate things about others in public, and dealing with her fears of letting her daughters roam unattended, along with other anxieties. One particular standout tale begins by chattily explaining her neurotic need for organization and transitions into talking about how immobilized she is as she waits for the results of her husband’s biopsy. The writing is light and propulsive—a quick read that conveys the sense that Dineen just scribbled down the words in between Costco runs. That immediacy is refreshing, but it can make a few stories come off as inarticulate or flip. Take an ill-advised dialogue between the author and a customer-service rep with a strong Indian accent: “Bob: Akbar, junkdoo, doodly, remote access, alacazam, Wheatknee. Me: Um, yes, that would be fine. Bob: Sidhartha doodly dingly dung, Wheatknee. Okay, Wheatknee?” Though there are moments of earnestness, the pieces are mostly written like punchy stand-up comedy bits, with laugh lines propelled mostly by scatological humor that may delight some readers and put off others. (On picking her nose: “I was having a heck of a time rooting that sucker out before I hit traffic and was two knuckles deep before I even noticed my friend’s husband drive past me.”)

A breezy collection of tell-all stories about the trials of raising children that can feel dashed off but often hits its humorous marks.

Pub Date: May 15, 2017


Page Count: 188

Publisher: 33 Partners Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 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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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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