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A straight-talking, funny and poignant memoir.

An award-winning TV writer and magazine sex columnist gives the scoop on the “honest, horrible, hysterical truth about the early years of marriage.”

Nearing 40, Chupack had racked up “enough relationship wreckage to fill a book” and one failed marriage to a gay man. Then she met Ian, the player who unexpectedly became a prince—and her second husband. Despite years of relationship experience, however, the author came to this second marriage with no real insight into the endless compromises “forever” entailed and immediately began discovering truths about love she hadn’t counted on. Colds made her otherwise handsome husband seem weak and unattractive, while negative feelings she had about her body made Ian upset, especially when they kept them “from having fun.” Sharing space with another person—especially someone like Ian, who “left evidence of life all around the house”—could be difficult for a “neat freak” like her. Although she adored her husband, she could not love his belongings, which inevitably displaced the ordered, elegant world she had created for herself. The one exception was Ian’s dog, whose drooling and hair shedding became two more lessons in acceptance. Chupack also chronicles the heartbreaking struggles with infertility that left her and her husband teetering on the edge of despair. Only after the two of them decided to adopt did things change. Suddenly, they were caretakers of a life beyond themselves, and the formerly self-centered author was now a “citizen of the world,” actively seeking, and celebrating, connection with others. Marriage and motherhood, Chupack concludes, are not the happy endings everyone dreams they will be. Rather, they are beginnings that, for all the pain and loss they may entail, offer the chance to “see higher highs than you ever imagined.”

A straight-talking, funny and poignant memoir.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-02553-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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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A straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York.

When advertising executive Schroff answered a child’s request for spare change by inviting him for lunch, she did not expect the encounter to grow into a friendship that would endure into his adulthood. The author recounts how she and Maurice, a promising boy from a drug-addicted family, learned to trust each other. Schroff acknowledges risks—including the possibility of her actions being misconstrued and the tension of crossing socio-economic divides—but does not dwell on the complexities of homelessness or the philosophical problems of altruism. She does not question whether public recognition is beneficial, or whether it is sufficient for the recipient to realize the extent of what has been done. With the assistance of People human-interest writer Tresniowski (Tiger Virtues, 2005, etc.), Schroff adheres to a personal narrative that traces her troubled relationship with her father, her meetings with Maurice and his background, all while avoiding direct parallels, noting that their childhoods differed in severity even if they shared similar emotional voids. With feel-good dramatizations, the story seldom transcends the message that reaching out makes a difference. It is framed in simple terms, from attributing the first meeting to “two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams” that were “somehow meant to be friends” to the conclusion that love is a driving force. Admirably, Schroff notes that she did not seek a role as a “substitute parent,” and she does not judge Maurice’s mother for her lifestyle. That both main figures experience a few setbacks yet eventually survive is never in question; the story fittingly concludes with an epilogue by Maurice. For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter.


Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4251-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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