Certain relief, for middle schoolers and their parents, from the discomfort associated with a difficult period in life.

AND THEN THEY STOPPED TALKING TO ME

MAKING SENSE OF MIDDLE SCHOOL

In this call for change, a bestselling author examines the often painful middle school years and offers parents sound advice that will enable their children to become more empathetic, caring, and resilient.

This book stems from Warner’s unrelenting desire to find good explanations for what her middle school–age daughter was experiencing, why the parents and other children were behaving as they were, and what she could do to improve the situation. Over the course of two years, the author interviewed more than 100 people, including experts, educators, parents, and nonparents, from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages. With few exceptions, what she found was a shared sense of social struggle. In order to provide a better understanding of the middle school years, Warner begins by exploring the societal history of the 11- to 14-year-old age group from Colonial America to the present. She points out that the view of this age group has shifted over time and that mass media has contributed to many of the myths and negatives stereotypes often associated with middle schoolers. Warner also cites research indicating that our own memories of middle school may be inaccurate or incomplete. According to scientists, there is a “second critical period” of brain development during adolescence. For this reason, we were incapable of seeing the big picture without the help of adults—and our children are facing the same thing. The author stresses that parents should view middle schoolers as “works in progress” and help them develop the tools they need to thrive by teaching and modeling the ability to think and feel beyond themselves. Warner argues that the great danger facing middle schoolers today is the values (or lack thereof) that we are teaching them. “Selfishness, competition, and personal success at any cost” must be replaced with new norms. “By rethinking the middle school years,” she writes, “we have the opportunity to become better and happier adults.”

Certain relief, for middle schoolers and their parents, from the discomfort associated with a difficult period in life.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-90588-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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