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An idiosyncratic but helpful mix of autobiography and advice.

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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.

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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