A contemporary story follows three middle-aged siblings who struggle to care for their aging parents.
In her debut novel, Paul (Women in Buddhism, 1985, etc.) narrates from the perspectives of Julia “Jules” Foster, Joanne Grant, and Andrew Whitman, the three grown children of Aida and Robert “Bob” Whitman. The novel opens as Jules is summoned to the local police station to retrieve her elderly parents after her father sideswipes a parked automobile and drives through a fence onto a soccer field. As she drives her parents back to Safe Harbour, their elegant assisted living facility, Jules fails to convince her father to acknowledge his diminished faculties and relinquish his license. She also confronts her parents about their mounting debts and her inability to support their extravagant lifestyle. Her parents rely heavily on her financial support, and she finds herself sacrificing the goals and dreams of her daughter, including a college education, to continue bankrolling her folks. As the book progresses, readers meet Joanne, the doting divorcée whom Aida always preferred over Jules, as well as Andrew, who refuses to send his parents so much as a Christmas present. Through many flashbacks and reflective moments, the siblings reveal that during their childhood, Aida was a selfish, overbearing mother with inappropriate behaviors and that Bob was aloof and sometimes cruel. Now that their flawed parents are incapable of caring for themselves, the siblings must decide where to draw the line between obligation and total martyrdom. Throughout the novel, the narrative bounces among the siblings, providing varying perspectives on the characters of Aida and Bob, as well as the multifaceted personal dilemmas facing each of the children they raised. With a grace that is absorbing and deft, Paul tackles many difficult questions, including filial responsibility, depression, marital strife, and sexual identity. She elucidates the challenges of caring for aging parents as well as the pain inherent in losing independence. The author depicts several heart-wrenching conundrums as the three siblings are forced repeatedly to evaluate their personal priorities. This book should particularly appeal to readers facing similar caretaking situations.
An engaging tale of family dysfunction and intractable senior citizens.