Refreshingly nonpolemical—will be of special interest to secular parents struggling with some of the issues presented.

LOSING OUR RELIGION

HOW UNAFFILIATED PARENTS ARE RAISING THEIR CHILDREN

To Sunday school or not to Sunday school?

To the intriguing question of how parents without religious affiliation raise their children, the answers vary, as do the parents studied here. Manning (Religious Studies/Sacred Heart Univ.; God Gave Us The Right: Conservative Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox Jewish Women Grapple with Feminism, 1999, etc.) opens with data about the rapidly growing number of people in the United States, especially those under 30, who list “none” when asked to indicate their religious affiliation. The author divides the “Nones” into four categories—unchurched believer, spiritual seeker, philosophical secularist, and the indifferent—which she takes pains to differentiate. She discusses the plusses and minuses of five strategies by which parents attempt to transmit a worldview to their children: going back to church, finding an alternative community, doing it oneself, letting others do it, and finally, doing nothing. In addition to using existing surveys and demographic data, Manning conducted interviews with Nones across the country, seeking to discover how they differ from churched Americans, asking what choices they made about including religion in their children’s lives, what strategies they adopted, how community and family pressures shaped their choices, and how having children affected their own worldviews. A self-identified None, she clearly established a rapport with her subjects that enabled her to extract thoughtful, revealing answers. She summarizes some responses and quotes extensively from others, making the book longer than absolutely necessary but more pleasurable than a more academic text. Having presented the results of her study and analyzed its significance, the author then muses on the meaning of choice in religion, the significance of this trend toward personal choice, and its impact on the culture at large. As to whether it is better to raise children with or without religion, her conclusion is that more study is needed to answer that question.

Refreshingly nonpolemical—will be of special interest to secular parents struggling with some of the issues presented.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4798-7425-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

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. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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...

HOW NOT TO HATE YOUR HUSBAND AFTER KIDS

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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