OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN

AN INTIMATE ACCOUNT OF THE DILEMMAS FACING MIDDLE-CLASS PARENTS AND THE WOMEN THEY HIRE TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN

An examination of the friction that often arises between parents and the caregivers they entrust with their children. Drawing on more than 150 interviews conducted in Los Angeles and New York, Wrigley (Sociology/City Univ. of New York; Class Politics and Public Schools, not reviewed) focuses on the inevitable social gulf that exists between upper-middle-class parents and the child-care workers they hire. Only a small minority of caregivers (often college students) have middle-class backgrounds; most are from poor Third World countries such as El Salvador, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands. Because of the educational, social, and economic chasm between employer and employee, the author argues, child care is often embedded in ``a relationship of inequality'' that frequently has a negative impact on the concern the caregivers—as social subordinates—offer the children in their charge. There are many reasons why employers hire people so different from themselves, states Wrigley. Immigrants are often willing to work for relatively low wages and are prepared to take on housework duties in addition to childrearing tasks. They can't be counted on, however, to be ``stimulating and educational'' substitute parents; many do not even speak English. The author points out that parents who opt for ``class peers'' over immigrants have merely taken on a different set of problems: These caregivers do not perceive their role as subordinate, and their employers often don't know how to integrate them into the household; struggles to establish boundaries are inevitable. Wrigley concludes that high-quality, accessible day care is a viable option that can better meet the needs of most parents and their children. Serviceable, but this rather drab account would have been livelier if Wrigley had included some anecdotes and quoted more from first-person narratives.

Pub Date: April 12, 1995

ISBN: 0-465-05370-X

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1995

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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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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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