Leach strikes the right balance between a hard-nosed examination of the data and a compassionate, let’s-make-this-work...

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WHEN PARENTS PART

HOW MOTHERS AND FATHERS CAN HELP THEIR CHILDREN DEAL WITH SEPARATION AND DIVORCE

A guide to managing the fallout for children when parents choose to separate and divorce.

British research psychologist Leach (The Essential First Year, 2010, etc.) has an impressive list of credentials in the child development sphere. In addition to countless other designations, she is a fellow of the British Psychological Society and president and chair of the Child Development Society, and she has been a member of the curriculum board of Sesame Street. Suffice to say that she has the wide range of experience that justifies the label of “expert,” which makes this new book, on supporting children through parents’ separation and divorce, an important read for anyone interested in how to successfully navigate that rocky situation. Early on, the author notes that, were divorce a physical disease, the level of occurrence in the United States would warrant emergency research into vaccines and immunizations. Leach thoughtfully structures the book, beginning with a breakdown of how children perceive, and are affected by, their parents’ separation at various ages, from baby to young adult. This structure allows the parents to jump right in and begin finding answers. Other, less-immediate family members receive the same consideration, and Leach provides an overview of legal and practical considerations before turning to the second part of the book, “Separating Better—or Worse.” The author makes sure to maintain a child-centered approach, and she explores how to reinforce that approach in the face of alienation, partner conflict, and the processes of making a parenting plan and putting it into action. She also explores post-divorce difficulties and the constantly changing dynamics between parents and their children.

Leach strikes the right balance between a hard-nosed examination of the data and a compassionate, let’s-make-this-work pragmatism. This will allow parents to shore up their children’s stability when it may feel like everything else is crumbling down.

Pub Date: May 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-87404-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

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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