Memorable, lyrical, and ultimately hopeful: a book that speaks intently to anyone who suffers from illness and loss.

BETWEEN TWO KINGDOMS

A MEMOIR OF A LIFE INTERRUPTED

A thoughtful memoir of dealing with cancer and feeling “at sea, close to sinking, grasping at anything that might buoy me.”

“It began with an itch.” So commences a story whose trajectory is sadly familiar to many survivors. Jaouad, then a student at Princeton, attributed it to some internal pest. “As my energy evaporated and the itch intensified,” she writes, “I told myself it was because the parasite’s appetite was growing. But deep down, I doubted there ever was a parasite. I began to wonder if the real problem was me.” The problem was not her, though the post-graduation ambit of cocaine- and alcohol-filled nights didn’t help. Eventually, home after living in Paris, the author learned the truth: She had a form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, manifested by that itching and fatigue that no amount of coffee or uppers could overcome, “not evidence of partying too hard or an inability to cut it in the real world, but something concrete, something utterable that I could wrap my tongue around.” Battling her advanced leukemia, Jaouad also wrestled with complicated issues about mortality and hope. Fortunately, all the endless hours in hospitals and clinics, all the chemotherapy and psychological therapy and bloodwork and anguish resulted in her continued habitation of the kingdom of earth—though not all of her fellow travelers were as fortunate. While still being treated and advised against traveling, she took a friend’s ashes to India, “a first exercise in confronting my ghosts.” The trip was also part of a program of lifting her vision from the intensely self-focused back to the larger world, which set her on a rehabilitative road trip and the memorable realization that “it all can be lost in a moment,” good reason to enjoy life while you can.

Memorable, lyrical, and ultimately hopeful: a book that speaks intently to anyone who suffers from illness and loss.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-58858-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Fans will blissfully revel in the intimate if restlessly delivered details in this perceptive memoir.

THE BEAUTY OF LIVING TWICE

The celebrated actor reflects on a life of success, activism, and cleansing self-discovery.

Stone (b. 1958) begins in the hospital in 2001, when a severe brain injury nearly ended her life. She then backtracks to her youth growing up with three siblings in the “snowbelt” of northwestern Pennsylvania. She excelled at school but distanced herself from an aloof, damaged mother, a woman who never had a chance “to imagine a life where she could be whatever she chose.” As a teenager, Stone waited tables while entering local beauty pageants, which led to Manhattan modeling jobs and a move to Hollywood in the early 1980s. The author breaks down her iconic roles in Basic Instinct and Casino. Regarding the controversial interrogation scene in the former, she writes, “there have been many points of view…but since I’m the one with the vagina in question, let me say: the other points of view are bullshit.” While sharing a host of madcap episodes throughout an eventful life, she also proudly describes her impressive “life of service,” her Buddhist faith, and the adoptions of three sons. She also contributes juicier stories about co-hosting the 2008 Cannes Film Festival with Madonna and the controversy that erupted following a stray comment to reporters. Stone then moves on to her “second life,” when she endured “the loss of all things we call dear,” including her father, marriage, health, and financial security. Though the memoir is unevenly, frenetically narrated, that will only deter readers unfamiliar with Stone’s persona. Delivering a barrage of self-reflective anecdotes, she is consistently candid, alternatingly tender and feisty, and always witty. In conclusion, Stone offers thoughts on wisdom, modesty, and vulnerability as well as some startling admissions about “being sexually abused throughout my life.” Encouragingly, Stone has reconciled with her mother. “Today,” she writes, “my mother and I are at the beginning of our relationship.”

Fans will blissfully revel in the intimate if restlessly delivered details in this perceptive memoir.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65676-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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