Candid, compassionate, and comforting caregiving advice.

WHEN CAREGIVING CALLS

GUIDANCE AS YOU CARE FOR A PARENT, SPOUSE, OR AGING RELATIVE

A debut work directed at caregivers delivers straight talk and a lot of understanding.

About 21% of adults in the United States—as many as 53 million Americans—act as caregivers for aging or disabled loved ones, according to a 2020 research report cited by Blight. This segment of the population performs a service that the author is all too familiar with. He and his wife were caregivers to his mother-in-law in their home for close to two years following brain surgery, after which she lived independently but needed assistance from health aides. The episode led Blight to start his own home care company and eventually become a caregiving consultant. These three experiences—caregiver, owner of a home care service, and consultant—uniquely qualify the author to comprehend the complex, often emotional aspects of providing care for a spouse or aging parent. The book is smartly organized into 18 brief yet highly relevant chapters, each addressing an aspect of caregiving. At the close of every chapter, questions are included for reflection. Rather than attempt to create a manual, the author shares salient observations about caregiving from a very personal perspective. Often, he exposes the changing roles and conflicting emotions associated with caregiving, expressing feelings that may be uncomfortable but are widespread among practitioners. He writes, for example, “When the mother who cared for you becomes dependent upon care by you, the change can be unexpectedly difficult to comprehend and accept.” He references a study by two researchers that helps explain this “role identity conflict,” offering helpful suggestions for how to cope with such a common situation.

Blight also deftly discusses the complex dynamic if the caregiver and the receiver have “an imperfect relationship.” In this case, caregivers “need to decide how much they can tolerate and then set boundaries with the care receiver.” Throughout the book, the author brings up thorny, challenging issues and then applies his experience in proposing mechanisms to deal with them. In writing about time management, for example, he acknowledges that caregivers often need to adjust their schedules to meet receivers’ needs. He then suggests six time-management strategies to handle this reality. When he points to “compassion fatigue,” a condition that occurs when caregivers get worn out, he lists 10 “stress-reduction tips” for them to follow. Blight diligently covers many aspects of how caregiving affects both parties, such as the impact on other members of the family, the problems of juggling caregiving and work, the pros and cons of hiring outside assistance, the discomfort surrounding ministering to an aging body, the demands of coping with dementia, and more. Blight writes in a conversational, informal style. He demonstrates a keen understanding of the entire spectrum of caregiving and uses pertinent examples. He continuously reassures the caregiver, especially when he talks about the “rewards” of the role. In this respect, Blight is both educator and cheerleader. His intimate knowledge of caregiving—how it affects the two principals—makes this a valuable resource.

Candid, compassionate, and comforting caregiving advice.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-414-7

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Rivertowns Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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