A must-read travel book, especially for those embarking on the same journey Kramer so truthfully and helpfully records.

READ REVIEW

CHANGING PLACES

A JOURNEY WITH MY PARENTS INTO THEIR OLD AGE

Based on the Gazette columns she wrote, Washington, D.C., journalist Kramer offers a moving and informative guide to a journey more and more Americans with aging parents must eventually take as they help them navigate their way through the end zone.

Kramer began writing about her parents when she realized that they needed her help. Both in their 80s, their increasing health problems meant that they could no longer live alone, and the author had to help them move into a nursing home. In sections entitled “Afternoon,” “Evening,” “Night,” “Dawn,” and “Morning,” she describes the grim realities as well as the surprisingly joyous rewards of having to become your own parents’ parent. At a time in life when her own relationship with her children was changing—she is married and has three adult children—she perceptively notes the ways these changes conflicted and imposed new demands on the family, her marriage, and her professional life. She also describes the practical help she gave her parents by paying bills, dealing with Medicaid, buying favorite toiletries, and (for Mother’s Day) making a much-appreciated large-print telephone book for her mother, who was having difficulty reading. But she inevitably had to confront emotionally freighted issues as her parents’ health continued to decline and she had to discuss funeral arrangements and living wills with them. She frankly acknowledges how old resentments and disappointments about her relations with them continued to distress her, but she also describes loving and close moments she shared with them that eased her grieving when they died and helped her to move on.

A must-read travel book, especially for those embarking on the same journey Kramer so truthfully and helpfully records.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-57322-163-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more