A simple but thoughtful handbook for 21st-century parents.

CONSCIOUS PARENTING

USING THE PARENTAL AWARENESS THRESHOLD

In this slim parenting guide, Saul, a pediatrics professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, urges parents to be more engaged with their children and their community.

After the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, Saul penned his debut parenting manual, My Children’s Children (2013), which offered ideas on how to raise kids to be good citizens. That sentiment continues in this friendly guide as he advocates for increased parental involvement at home and in larger communities. He’s clearly a fan of the “it takes a village” philosophy, as he contends that all children are the “joint responsibility” of all adults. But good citizenship begins at home, and he notes that parents who practice “conscious awareness”—by, for example, actively listening to children in order to understand their needs—have more positive interactions with their kids generally. “The Parental Awareness Threshold (PAT) is the state of conscious awareness about the past, current and future interactions of a parent with their children,” he explains, and people who learn to successfully parent “above the PAT” will be better able to rationally assess situations instead of reacting emotionally. His brief chapters contain some memorable real-life scenarios in boxed text for easy reference, and he offers calm advice for stressed-out mothers and fathers. For example, he tells a story of a child spilling a drink on a car’s back seat; a parent yells but later finds out it wasn’t the child’s fault. Instead of yelling, notes Saul, the parent could have pulled over, cleaned up, and listened to the youngster’s explanation of what happened. Several ideas here are obvious, such as that patience is critical for effective parenting. Also, some readers won’t like the book’s lack of emphasis on individuality; for example, it doesn’t address the question of whether one may be a good citizen without being deeply involved in the community. However, others will appreciate Saul’s focus on the importance of active caring.

A simple but thoughtful handbook for 21st-century parents.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64663-043-1

Page Count: 100

Publisher: Koehler Books

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2020

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

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

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 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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