Next book

WHILE THEY'RE STILL HERE

A MEMOIR

Both crushing and uplifting; an account nearly as emotional as the caregiver’s trials it vividly outlines.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

The unexpected responsibilities of being her parents’ full-time caregiver bring a dutiful daughter not only heavy burdens, but new revelations about her family as well.

A phone call from Williams’ half sister Linda signals it’s finally time to help her aging parents pack up and sell their house in Englewood, Florida, and move to her neighborhood in Olympia, Washington, to aid them in their twilight years. So begins this debut memoir, with the methodical Williams, a former dental hygienist used to managing her and her partner Katy’s household and dogs, leaving behind her familiar routines to become a caregiver. The challenge is considerable—though not invalids, her father is almost completely blind, plagued by seizures and breathing problems, and battles PTSD from his service during World War II, while her mother drinks heavily and suffers chronic knee and hip problems. A never-ending list of tasks follows as Williams struggles to improve their lives, from weaning her mom off the booze to finding therapy for her dad’s vision, while coping with a new order of parent/child interdependence. As sudden emergency room visits, prescription management, and an uncertain future for all parties become the norm, Williams’ vow to keep their moods elevated begins sinking her own, with frustration and irritation becoming a state of nigh-constant worry. This anxiety is so pervasive that many other caregivers should immediately recognize it, yet despite this, the engrossing book is largely upbeat. By the author’s own admission, the divide between her parents, right out of Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation,” and her and her boomer siblings was considerable, with alcoholism, infidelity, and political disagreements often aggravating that schism. Yet again ever present in her parents’ lives, amazing stories with captivating details surface, from the deeds both heroic and horrific her father witnessed in the Navy to her mother’s days as a singer, nightclub dancer, and model, along with the poverty both faced growing up in the Depression. The end result is an intimate oral history of a blue-collar, postwar American family revealed by the author in the same touching and heartbreaking manner it was disclosed to her.

Both crushing and uplifting; an account nearly as emotional as the caregiver’s trials it vividly outlines.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-240-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2017

Next book

INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Next book

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview