A cute little missive about the joys of parenthood that’s slightly cuter than most of the other recent cute little missives...


Veteran comedian and actor finds humor and pathos in parenthood—just like everybody else.

Former Saturday Night Live player and current Weeds star Nealon and wife Susan began thinking about having a kid when he was 52—not, some might say, the best age to embark upon the road to fatherhood. But embark the happy couple did, and along the way they encountered fertility doctors, meddling friends and family, Kegel classes…you know, the usual stuff that contemporary parents-to-be have to deal with. The entire process forced Nealon to reconsider his previous life and figure out if he would be a good father. Fortunately for readers of his debut memoir, he’s relatively funny about the whole thing. Over the last few years, there has been a spate of books from new and/or reluctant parents detailing how having a baby alters and/or improves one’s life: Neal Pollack’s Alternadad: The True Story of One Family’s Struggle to Raise a Cool Kid in America (2007); Jim Lindberg’s Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life (2007); and Rebecca Woolf’s Rockabye: From Wild to Child (2008). Each of these works has its merits, as does Nealon’s, but since every new parent has to deal with delivery-room meltdowns, dirty diapers, sleep deprivation and, of course, a complete life overhaul, the question arises: How many of these books do we need? Nealon is a sharp observer and often very funny; for instance, among the baby names put up for discussion were Firecracker, Florida Coastal Waterway, Prayin’ Wyle and Conan Meconium. However, he’s picked a subject that has been recently mined for all it’s worth, so there’s a good chance that his periodically charming, periodically draggy meditation-on-fatherhood/autobiography will get lost in the baby-book shuffle.

A cute little missive about the joys of parenthood that’s slightly cuter than most of the other recent cute little missives about the joys of parenthood.

Pub Date: May 13, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-121520-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperEntertainment

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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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

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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. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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