An idiosyncratic but helpful mix of autobiography and advice.

BOURNE TO EVOLVE

A debut memoir explores love and loss from the perspective of a caregiver.

In 1999, White survived a bout with thyroid cancer. Then her father died of cancer. Later, her husband, Al, whom she describes as her soul mate, received a diagnosis of prostate cancer: “From that point forward and for the next fifteen years, Al experienced multiple surgeries, ongoing medical treatments and he endured non-stop pain from additional health issues,” recalls the author. “For those fifteen years, I learned the process and pains of being his caregiver.” Caregiving forced White to view life in a different way, and it is this new outlook that she wishes to share with her readers, many of whom likely have been or will be caregivers at some point in their journeys. Mixing anecdotes from her own experiences with practical advice for those who find themselves in similar positions, the author dispels many of the misconceptions people have about caregivers—that they’re all saints, for example—and offers tips on everything from communicating with doctors to handling funeral arrangements. She also tackles the inevitable issue of grief, recounting how she finally lost her husband to his disease and then, one year later, her mother as well. From there, she presses on, describing how to rebuild your life as a widow and an orphan, from experimenting with new philosophies to getting back in the dating scene. White’s prose is calm and warm, and she communicates her advice in the empathetic voice of a family friend, as here where she encourages caregivers to listen to music: “Music also heals the soul of us caregivers by lessening the effects of our stress. I’ve always felt that is a form of meditation that takes our souls to a deeper level of spiritual connection and eases our fears.” The book’s structure is a bit unpredictable, veering from memoir to motivational guide and back in ways that sometimes feel inelegant. But on the whole, the author’s story is affecting, and her tips are thoughtful and undoubtedly applicable for readers who become caregivers. White shows it is possible to come through these difficulties while still feeling love for the person in your charge—and affection for yourself.

An idiosyncratic but helpful mix of autobiography and advice.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982218-64-5

Page Count: 178

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

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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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