The authors’ suggestions and insights cover a wide spectrum of child-raising situations and should, when properly applied,...

RAISING CAN-DO KIDS

GIVING CHILDREN THE TOOLS TO THRIVE IN A FAST-CHANGING WORLD

If it works for successful entrepreneurs, why shouldn’t it work for your children?

Entrepreneurs are willing to engage personal resources in launching a business, even at increased financial risk. Rende (Psychosocial Interventions for Genetically Influenced Problems in Childhood and Adolescence, 2014) and Prosek (Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth, 2011) were in the early stages of collaborating on a book on entrepreneurship, and the conversation turned to the challenges of parenting, which led to an idea: what if some of the key attributes of a successful entrepreneur could be applied to how a parent raises their children? Not in the sense of creating the next Warren Buffett, necessarily, but in providing a skill set that empowers kids to “do for themselves,” regardless of their goals or mitigating circumstances. Given his background in developmental psychology, Rende understands the importance in today’s child development and psychology research of “evidence-based practices.” Concepts, general ideas, and anecdotal stories about parenting successes are all well and good, but like approaches in psychotherapy, the methods must be backed by a preponderance of evidence. Narrowing down a list of the intersections between entrepreneurial traits and child-development research, Rende and Prosek settled on seven traits, across the cognitive, personal, and social domains of development: exploration, innovation, optimism, risk-taking, industriousness, likability, and service to others. The authors strike an excellent balance throughout the book, examining approaches that draw on evidence-based research across multiple disciplines. They also take measures not to throw out the baby with the bath water, at times noting some of the common-sense anecdotal stories—e.g., shouldn’t kindergarteners have time outside every day?—and then providing the evidence that supports it.

The authors’ suggestions and insights cover a wide spectrum of child-raising situations and should, when properly applied, deliver lasting results.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16896-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Perigee/Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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AN INVISIBLE THREAD

THE TRUE STORY OF AN 11-YEAR-OLD PANHANDLER, A BUSY SALES EXECUTIVE, AND AN UNLIKELY MEETING WITH DESTINY

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.

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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