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THE MEASURE OF OUR AGE

NAVIGATING CARE, SAFETY, MONEY, & MEANING LATER IN LIFE

A book that deserves wide attention and discussion among aging readers and those who care for them.

A book about growing old and the indignities—many of them avoidable—that aging entails.

Connolly, former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative, opens with the observation that in the 20th century, Americans added 30 years to their average life spans. Technology has helped, with family connections maintained by Zoom calls, uncooperative hips and knees easily replaced, and so forth, so that “for millions of people, there has never been a better time to be old.” People in their 70s report being happier than ever in the lives. Then come the 80s, when, as Connolly observes, some three-quarters of people suffer some “functional disability” that drastically reduces quality of life. Many of the attendant phenomena are structural and can be changed. However, most elder care is provided by unpaid family members, such as spouses and adult children, at an estimated annual loss of $522 billion in potential income. Those caregivers are often untrained, while facilities sometimes prey on patients. Regarding the latter, Connolly urges stronger policing and punishment, and she argues against the common practice of assigning full guardianship to non–family members. As she writes, many of the societal woes that the elderly face are intersectional: Women face both ageism and sexism, while older minority members face racism and economic discrimination—to say nothing of worse institutional care generally, as the demographics of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes attest. Throughout this lucid and thought-provoking treatise, Connolly offers thoughts on ways of improving life for the elderly, ranging from living in mixed-age communities rather than seniors-only retirement enclaves to applying psychotropic drugs to the treatment of anxiety and depression in hopes of finding “ways that mind-altering substances might alter the course of mind-altering diseases.”

A book that deserves wide attention and discussion among aging readers and those who care for them.

Pub Date: July 18, 2023

ISBN: 9781541702721

Page Count: 384

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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