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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A miscellany of paternal pride (and frustration) darkened by the author’s increasing realizations of his mortality.


Ruminations and reminiscences of an author—now in his 70s—about fatherhood, writing, and death.

O’Brien (July, July, 2002, etc.), who achieved considerable literary fame with both Going After Cacciato (1978) and The Things They Carried (1990), returns with an eclectic assembly of pieces that grow increasingly valedictory as the idea of mortality creeps in. (The title comes from the author’s uncertainty about his ability to assemble these pieces in a single volume.) He begins and ends with a letter: The initial one is to his first son (from 2003); the terminal one, to his two sons, both of whom are now teens (the present). Throughout the book, there are a number of recurring sections: “Home School” (lessons for his sons to accomplish), “The Magic Show” (about his long interest in magic), and “Pride” (about his feelings for his sons’ accomplishments). O’Brien also writes often about his own father. One literary figure emerges as almost a member of the family: Ernest Hemingway. The author loves Hemingway’s work (except when he doesn’t) and often gives his sons some of Papa’s most celebrated stories to read and think and write about. Near the end is a kind of stand-alone essay about Hemingway’s writings about war and death, which O’Brien realizes is Hemingway’s real subject. Other celebrated literary figures pop up in the text, including Elizabeth Bishop, Andrew Marvell, George Orwell, and Flannery O’Connor. Although O’Brien’s strong anti-war feelings are prominent throughout, his principal interest is fatherhood—specifically, at becoming a father later in his life and realizing that he will miss so much of his sons’ lives. He includes touching and amusing stories about his toddler sons, about the sadness he felt when his older son became a teen and began to distance himself, and about his anguish when his sons failed at something.

A miscellany of paternal pride (and frustration) darkened by the author’s increasing realizations of his mortality.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-618-03970-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A highly readable account of how solid research and personal testing of self-help techniques saved a couple's marriage after...


Self-help advice and personal reflections on avoiding spousal fights while raising children.

Before her daughter was born, bestselling author Dunn (Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?: And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask, 2009, etc.) enjoyed steady work and a happy marriage. However, once she became a mother, there never seemed to be enough time, sleep, and especially help from her husband. Little irritations became monumental obstacles between them, which led to major battles. Consequently, they turned to expensive couples' therapy to help them regain some peace in life. In a combination of memoir and advice that can be found in most couples' therapy self-help books, Dunn provides an inside look at her own vexing issues and the solutions she and her husband used to prevent them from appearing in divorce court. They struggled with age-old battles fought between men and women—e.g., frequency of sex, who does more housework, who should get up with the child in the middle of the night, why women need to have a clean house, why men need more alone time, and many more. What Dunn learned via therapy, talks with other parents, and research was that there is no perfect solution to the many dynamics that surface once couples become parents. But by using time-tested techniques, she and her husband learned to listen, show empathy, and adjust so that their former status as a happy couple could safely and peacefully morph into a happy family. Readers familiar with Dunn's honest and humorous writing will appreciate the behind-the-scenes look at her own semi-messy family life, and those who need guidance through the rough spots can glean advice while being entertained—all without spending lots of money on couples’ therapy.

A highly readable account of how solid research and personal testing of self-help techniques saved a couple's marriage after the birth of their child.

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-26710-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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