Novel by Celeste Ng

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My Introduction to Ng’s work

I must first confess that I’ve never read Little Fires Everywhere, but I binge watched the series on Hulu. Mia’s complicated relationship with her adolescent daughter, Pearl, kept me mesmerized. Without ruining the story, let’s just say, Pearl’s birth story was highly unusual.The two of them battled for Pearl’s autonomy amid a tight relational bond.

Then I heard Brené Brown’s interview with the author Celeste Ng, and I fell under the story’s spell.

A Consuming Maternal Love

Brené and Celeste discussed the complexity of parenthood. They described the ferocious love a mother can have for her child. …


Are we teaching them to expect betrayal?

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The waiting area of the hospital’s clinic lab was nearly full. A sea of blue masks spread across the room; each person seated six feet apart. Two rows over was a young mom and her toddler. The girl, only three to four years old, was tall for her age. Someone had taken the time to braid her black hair. Each pigtail sported neon-colored blue and pink ties.

Like a quiet mouse, she hung around her mom’s lap. It wasn’t until a lab technician called the family’s name that I noticed her. …


It’s because this is all I own after having to start my life over

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As the Zoom call for an upcoming podcast wrapped up, my co-host and I chatted with our featured guest. We had just finished interviewing a fellow writer/blogger. Someone who had made a name for herself as a relationship coach and had published a couple of books. I’d been a long-time admirer of hers, but until this interview, I’d only messaged her.

Now that the recording was over, we chatted and got to know one another better. It was then that the guest complimented me.

“You are always so put together,” she said. “So dressed up.”

I smiled but froze, not…


A sure way to help your readers either to love or hate them.

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Each Friday, my family has a tradition. Two of my adult sons visit for what I call our weekly dinner and a movie. Choosing what we will watch next has become quite the process. My youngest is a cinephile; the show must be well made. We will watch a whole gamut — from older TV series, current streaming options, and full-length cinematic choices — as long as it has excellent reviews.

One Way to Lose Our Audience’s Interest

A few weeks ago, we decided to watch a popular Netflix series, Altered Carbon. …


I still battle hesitancy and social anxiety

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I was one of those kids who was bullied — the awkward, nerdy type. The kind that others couldn’t resist picking on. It didn’t matter if I stayed hunched down, slumped over, and stuck to the corners of life. Somewhere on me was a neon sign that must have read “kick me.” The bullies sure had some type of radar or sixth sense I was ripe for the picking.

The Social Pecking Order

I’d seen how this worked firsthand as a farm kid. Chickens were notoriously cruel. …


Why I think radical honesty is the best policy.

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I came across an interesting dating profile recently. The guy had swiped right on mine, so I stopped to read through his. His disclosures made me pause. Along with a few close-ups of himself, he’d written a brief description, including his blunt preferences. Listed at the bottom was this sentence, “I have herpes. If that a problem for you, please pass on by.”

“Alrighty then,” I thought.

To be frank, his admission took me by surprise. I initially was a bit put off. …


We weren’t ready for the anger that often accompanies grief

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No one tells you what to expect when an immediate family member dies.

You’d think everyone would naturally come together to grieve. Pain, however, does odd things to relationships. Since no one likes to talk about losing a loved one, many of us ill-prepared for its occurrence. I did not know the loss of my husband would threaten our family.

Here’s What Happened

My husband and I had been married thirty years when we learned he had a rare small intestinal cancer. …


And I missed it too.

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Despite being a psychologist, I had a poor understanding of autism. My stereotypical views of its presentation now embarrass me. Developmental psychology wasn’t my specialty, and during my schooling, our knowledge of this condition was in its infancy. I thought autistic children were mute and locked within their interior world. I thought they avoided eye contact, rejected physical touch, preferred to rock their bodies, and twirled toys and blocks.

I gave birth to three sons in six years. My first was a challenge with severe insomnia and repeated ear infections. He used to scream for hours and was difficult to…


Here’s what happened when I didn’t

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When coaching a new writer, one of the first things I want to hear is their marketing plan, which includes their five key writing topics. Whether they know this, these subjects will be their brand or author theme.

Most look puzzled.

“What do you mean?” they ask.

“What five general topics will be your focus?”

Most list a range of unrelated ideas. They want to write about toxic narcissism, tiny gardens, and short-term investments. They hesitate to limit their writing to five closely related subjects for fear of stifling creativity.

I understand. I made the same error when I first…

Kerry McAvoy, PhD

Psychologist/Author. Quora & Medium Top Writer. Mom of three, Autistic woman, Relationship expert kerry@kerrymcavoyphd.com

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