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RAISING A PARENT

WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW?

A collection of 60 recommendations for coping with the needs of an aging parent.

While Liberman (Health Management & Informatics/University of Central Florida; Learning to Code with ICD-9-CM for Health Information Management and Health Services Information, 2006) has a doctoral degree and an academic position, his book eschews scholarly references and research findings for a personal narrative. The result is a book that is intensely personal and sometimes moving, but limited in its applicability. A major limitation comes from Liberman’s characterization of his caretaking role; he repeatedly refers to “22 years” of responsibility for his mother, but the narrative indicates that she lived independently in California for 16 of those years, including 4 years when Liberman lived in Florida. It appears that Liberman’s mother physically shared a home with him and his family for less than a month, at which time her frequent demands and negativism prompted him to have her return to her apartment. The references to “raising” a parent are therefore misleading. Liberman offers recommendations likely to be helpful to individuals struggling with a parent’s increased need for help, but they will not necessarily apply to individuals involved in daily caretaking. Another limitation is that chapters are poorly organized, with limited thematic continuity; chapters five and six deal with death and estate management respectively, and chapter seven addresses when the elderly should stop driving. The tone of the narrative becomes defensive at points (particularly when addressing management of financial affairs), and this defensiveness is linked to one of the book’s greatest strengths—Liberman’s willingness to admit his frustrations and mistakes; in the preface, the author says, “I would like the reader to know, as I am sure you will easily recognize throughout the text, that we did not always do everything right.” His honest disclosure of his sometimes unsuccessful struggles will almost certainly resonate with others who are dealing with an aging parent or facing their own negative emotions and missteps. A timely, important topic viewed through an intensely personal lens that limits the work’s applicability.

 

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463534264

Page Count: 184

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

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THE ESCAPE ARTIST

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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STRONG MOTHERS, STRONG SONS

LESSONS MOTHERS NEED TO RAISE EXTRAORDINARY MEN

Solid, practical advice for women on how to properly nurture their sons.

How women can raise boys to become good men.

More than ever, women are under pressure to be "everything to everyone," writes Meeker (The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity, 2010, etc.), as "working women feel that they must perform equally well both in the office and in caring for their home, husband, and children." The dynamics of raising boys is especially difficult for women due to the gender difference and the fact that women tend to be nurturing and helpful while allowing their sons to evolve into men in a constantly shifting masculine paradigm. Through research and interviews from her own practice, Meeker gives women the necessary tools to understand that perfection is not a realistic goal but that doing the best one can will ensure good results. Equally useful to single mothers and women with husbands is the advice that sons need to know they are loved from a very young age, as this builds a foundation of confidence in a child, a base that allows a boy to gradually move away from his mother as he interacts with male peers and elders. A boy's home life must be solid: a safe haven to return to regardless of his age, a place where his thoughts and feelings are respected and where he can express his hopes and dreams without fear of judgment. Meeker recommends introducing boys to religion, prayer and the unconditional love that comes from having a strong faith to boost self-confidence. She also skillfully navigates the world of sex—from a boy's first body awareness to the powerful effects of pornography and sexual messages embedded in social media, video games and news media, to his interactions in the world of girls and women. A mother's imprint on her son is powerful right from birth and remains so throughout her son's life. Meeker's advice gives women the tools to navigate these often rocky waters with confidence.

Solid, practical advice for women on how to properly nurture their sons.

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-51809-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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