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Sue Lika Dotan
Three & Me
I was kidnapped and saved at five. I danced with two Princes in one evening. Dined with Elizabeth Taylor, and Roddy McDowell. Got chased and yelled at by Billy Graham. Was seconds away from being blown up by a bomb in Israel. Was put up in the penthouse of the Plaza Hotel as a guest of Donald and Ivana Trump. Shared grief with Nancy Reagan. Turned down a famous actor's proposal. Found myself unknowingly becoming the sister of a gunman. This is a story of my life, growing up in the crosshairs of my mom's madness and my dad's inability to completely protect me. I was terrified of closeness, especially with women. I had no handbook for navigating my youth. I struggled to survive both emotionally and mentally. Until I met THREE amazing women. My three best friends, Jill Ireland Bronson, Theresa Saldana and Heather Urich gave me the love, the strength and understanding to find myself and flourish. And in turn, I was able to help them in their own journeys through disease and ultimate deaths. Three & Me is a story about our paths, how we gave and took of each other in the most intense ways. It’s filled with love, humor and many tears. While celebrities, each woman is relatable on a very human level, shedding the excesses of their lives to a bare bones life and death existence. It's a story filled with some despair and ends with hope and love. It's a crazy journey. Welcome to the ride!
This warm, spirited, continually surprising memoir, Dotan’s debut, surveys with humor and quick-moving storytelling a life boldly lived, despite health crises, occasional tragedy, youthful insecurity, and the complex generational cycles of anger and bitterness that shaped her upbringing—cycles she strove to break when she and her husband adopted a child. The book’s heart, though, is in the trio of intimate friendships suggested by the title, with actresses Jill Ireland, Theresa Saldana, and Heather Menzies Urich, extraordinary women with whom Dotan shared wisdom, laughter, misadventures, and deeply supportive connections in the face of life’s most wrenching passages. This sprawling,loosely organized account also, like life itself, routinely upends expectations, as Dotan experiences events both horrific—a near kidnapping as a child; being chased on California freeways as an adult—and heartening, like winning bikini contests at 16 despite being considered a wallflower at her southern California high school, or finding lasting love during her summer in a kibbutz.

Dotan writes with vivid scenecraft and in-the-moment excitement, telling her story in a brisk, engaging series of incidents. Chance encounters with the famous and notorious (Buzz Aldrin, Stephen Stills, Jerry Rubin, more than one prince, and many more) are memorable and often funny, while Dotan often draws sharp insights from her anecdotes, such as how the “Los Angeles hierarchy … felt like the social structure of high school all over again.”

No sooner does she come to that conviction, though, than she’s befriended, at the Santa Monica stables where she trained horses, by Jill Ireland, who welcomes Dotan into her exciting life with husband Charles Bronson. Dotan’s accounts of their jokes, routines, and caring for each other, especially during Ireland’s cancer treatments, are both moving and, when appropriate, hysterical. (One revelation: Bronson’s love of Murder She Wrote.) This epic-length book lacks a strong narrative throughline, but it bursts with life and fascinating stories, including the tragedy of Dotan’s brother, of Saldana’s strength and resilience, and of Dotan’s late-in-life re-bonding with her father. The Billy Graham story is a knockout.

Takeaway: Touching account of a surprising life and inspiring friendships.

Comparable Titles: Jill Ireland’s Life Wish, Theresa Saldana’s Beyond Survival.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A