A much-needed reminder that it’s OK, even necessary, for mothers to consider their own needs, in addition to their...


The Self-Care Solution


A knowledgeable parent dispenses advice to harried mothers who’ve forgotten how to care for themselves.

Julie Burton was a busy mom of four, freelance writer, and fitness instructor when a panic attack left her “shaking, sobbing” on her sister’s front step. “You have to figure out a way to take care of yourself,” her sister urged. Having already overcome a battle with anorexia, Burton again devoted her energy to healing herself, discovering that “the only way that a mother can truly be present, engaged, connected, and nurturing with her child is if she’s present, engaged, connected, and nurturing with herself.” To help other women who feel they’ve sacrificed their health and identity to caring for their kids, she offers eight “self-care solutions,” such as “honor your body,” “cultivate happiness and joy,” “find gratitude and connection,” “set boundaries,” and “never give up.” Burton draws extensively on her own parenting experiences as well as interviews with other mothers to clearly illustrate why women must embrace self-care and how they can do so, especially given the intense demands of modern parenthood. One mom confesses: I am starting to realize that I need to develop a sense of myself if I am going to be a good parent for them. So…I go out with friends, exercise, and try to relax. The debut book is full of gentle, if somewhat shopworn, admonishments to give up the quest for perfection and to focus on living in the moment—Burton is all about support, not judgment, and many of her tips would be easy to put into action. Yet she writes, as she acknowledges, from a place of privilege. Blithe advice to make time for yoga classes and get more sleep is of little help to single moms stretched to the limit or those who work long hours or multiple jobs to support their families. Burton also unquestioningly buys into the tired notion that “women are the managers of the family, which includes being manager of their children and, oftentimes, of the relationship with their partners.” While she helpfully devotes a chapter to nurturing a relationship with a spouse, the idea that many women would be better able to care for themselves if their partners shouldered a greater share of the parenting burden gets short shrift.

A much-needed reminder that it’s OK, even necessary, for mothers to consider their own needs, in addition to their children’s.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63152-068-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2016

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.


A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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