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GRAND CANYON CELEBRATION

A FATHER-SON JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

Another I-survived-the-Grand-Canyon memoir, but one with a twist. Patton, a sociologist well known among social-service workers for his writings on program evaluation and research, seems not to have met a New Age idea that he doesn’t like. Through the pages of this well-written book, he tests many of those ideas on his 18-year-old son, with whom he undertook a coming-of-age backpacking journey into the heart of the Grand Canyon a few years ago. Using the voyage as a means of talking about life’s big questions is an old strategy—in the instance of the Grand Canyon, we’ve already got William Calvin’s The River That Flows Uphill, a meditation on neuroscience and evolution—but Patton gives it a fresh turn with his apparent innocence and willingness to question anything and everything. Readers of a hard-nosed, hardcore wilderness-experience bent won’t much like Patton’s constant adverting to core New Age texts like Robert Bly’s Iron John and C.G. Jung’s Myth and Symbol, his readiness to bang bongo drums and press innocent animals into service as totems for his latter-day vision quest, but they’re not Patton’s core audience. Instead, he seems to be writing for men who are at something of a loss as to how to talk to their teenage sons, and in this matter he is a sympathetic and reassuring guide who sets a wise and reflective example. In one passage, for instance, Patton writes of watching his son sleep after a hard day of scrambling through broken rock and deep gorges and becoming “deeply conscious of how few extended and uninterrupted conversations we had had in his whole life. Times when TV didn’t force us to fit whatever dialogue we could into the space of commercials. Times when the telephone didn’t interrupt.” Fortunately for Patton, he was able to make time for those conversations, and it’s a pleasure to eavesdrop. File this under parenting, not outdoor adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-57392-266-8

Page Count: 330

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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THE ESCAPE ARTIST

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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STRONG MOTHERS, STRONG SONS

LESSONS MOTHERS NEED TO RAISE EXTRAORDINARY MEN

Solid, practical advice for women on how to properly nurture their sons.

How women can raise boys to become good men.

More than ever, women are under pressure to be "everything to everyone," writes Meeker (The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity, 2010, etc.), as "working women feel that they must perform equally well both in the office and in caring for their home, husband, and children." The dynamics of raising boys is especially difficult for women due to the gender difference and the fact that women tend to be nurturing and helpful while allowing their sons to evolve into men in a constantly shifting masculine paradigm. Through research and interviews from her own practice, Meeker gives women the necessary tools to understand that perfection is not a realistic goal but that doing the best one can will ensure good results. Equally useful to single mothers and women with husbands is the advice that sons need to know they are loved from a very young age, as this builds a foundation of confidence in a child, a base that allows a boy to gradually move away from his mother as he interacts with male peers and elders. A boy's home life must be solid: a safe haven to return to regardless of his age, a place where his thoughts and feelings are respected and where he can express his hopes and dreams without fear of judgment. Meeker recommends introducing boys to religion, prayer and the unconditional love that comes from having a strong faith to boost self-confidence. She also skillfully navigates the world of sex—from a boy's first body awareness to the powerful effects of pornography and sexual messages embedded in social media, video games and news media, to his interactions in the world of girls and women. A mother's imprint on her son is powerful right from birth and remains so throughout her son's life. Meeker's advice gives women the tools to navigate these often rocky waters with confidence.

Solid, practical advice for women on how to properly nurture their sons.

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-51809-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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