Establishing easy routines is the backbone of MacRae’s approach; her easy-to-read, practical advice and reassuring tone are...




An Australian mother of four (including a set of twins) and trained nurse/early childhood educator provides common-sense advice and practical suggestions for families with newborns and toddlers.

Drawing on her personal and professional background, MacRae follows the usual format of organizing sections by age, with newborns receiving the most attention. But special divisions for food, sleep, activities, etc. are offered for every age, all following her “Try to keep it simple and workable” philosophy. Advice for parents-to-be sets the practical, user-friendly tone: “[T]ake time to obtain a small notebook to write down a list of any questions you may have….Take this note book with you so you or your partner can…ask all the questions you have collected.” Observation and communication are emphasized throughout; new parents are encouraged to trust their instincts: “Learning to understand these signals is not as spooky, difficult or new age as it sounds, because for the most part it means listening to your heart!” On the sometimes controversial topic of breast-feeding versus bottle, MacRae is clear—“Breast feeding provides the perfect food for your baby”—but, she says, “a contented and happy mum will produce a contented and happier baby” and “as long as she is 100% happy with her decision, then she should go with it and try not to worry about the pressure and opinions of those who might question the path she has chosen.” A cartoon owl with a speech bubble accentuates helpful tips, while clear, black-and-white photos periodically support the text, charts and tables (all metric). Thorough and knowledgeable, MacRae’s guide may not surpass the bibles of the baby care world, but she doesn’t overwhelm, either. Like a wise and experienced nanny, she’s direct—“On no account do I believe any crying baby should be neglected to become distressed”—and supportive: “Please remember, these are learning days for both mother and baby.”

Establishing easy routines is the backbone of MacRae’s approach; her easy-to-read, practical advice and reassuring tone are the heart and soul of this up-to-date how-to manual.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495990878

Page Count: 368

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?