An entertaining and extremely helpful resource for parents trying to find their balance in hectic circumstances.

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A guide aimed at helping parents take care of their families by first taking care of themselves.

In this debut self-help book, Holmes begins with a personal story, “The Day I Broke,” about a particularly stressful day of juggling deadlines at work with the hectic demands of parenting young children. This event launched her quest to answer a seemingly simple question, “How do you find happiness in the chaos of parenting?” In this book, she provides the answers that she found and, more importantly, applied. She first shares 10 secrets to finding happiness—the first and most important of which is “You can’t do it all”—as well as tips for building and breaking habits, such as “bundling” a routine that’s difficult to implement, exercising, for example, with a more desirable activity, like reading. After that, she presents several research-supported suggestions to increase happiness, such as cutting down on clutter and complaining, while encouraging readers to “tinker to find [their] recipe” for whatever works for them. Holmes then ends the book with a few encouraging thoughts about preventing or recovering from inevitable moments of frustration. The book reads much like a series of interrelated blog posts, with catchy headings; an authentic, conversational tone; and short, powerful sentences that work to engage the reader. The author’s advice is practical, doable, and even trackable thanks to the book’s companion workbook. She also offers creative and memorable insights that greatly support her suggestions, such as a description of a to-do list as “a parking lot for all the thoughts zooming around in your brain.” The book will encourage and validate busy parents who are trying to do their best. And there’s plenty of parenting humor, too, such as a description of “that clay sculpture your big kid made at school that’s supposed to be a leafy sea dragon but looks more like a clump of cat litter.”

An entertaining and extremely helpful resource for parents trying to find their balance in hectic circumstances.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5372-2446-6

Page Count: 122

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017



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


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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