A thoughtful, faith-based read that provides engaging insights on attachment issues.

UPSIDE DOWN

UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTING ATTACHMENT IN ADOPTIVE FAMILIES

A candid self-help book about forming bonds with adopted children.

Guerra (Upside Down, 2014) uses a pragmatic, straightforward voice to address the challenges that stem from attachment issues with adopted kids. She’s an adoptive mother herself, and a key aspect of her approach—limiting kids’ interactions with outside adults—seems counterintuitive, she says, and it’s often not understood by those outside adoptive families. Due to past traumas, adopted kids often experience confusion about whom they can trust, the author says, and they often have difficulty attaching to their new parents. As a result, they can develop manipulative behaviors in an attempt to feel in control. Interactions with well-meaning adults can then lead to setbacks—troublesome behaviors that can last for weeks. The book illustrates its central concept with many examples from Guerra’s and other adoptive family members’ own lives. It also talks through the sometimes-trying realities of life in an adoptive family, contrasting them with “rose-tinted” fictional portrayals of the experience. The author establishes why limits are necessary, how to recognize and respond to difficult behaviors, how to deal with judgmental members of the larger community, and how others can help. The author’s many references to Christianity underscore how her faith has been an integral part of her parenting experience. The book might have benefited from early, precise definitions of what the author describes as “the entire spectrum ranging from general attachment issues to Reactive Attachment Disorder,” to assist the uninitiated. That said, she does helpfully include information on further resources and is adept at illustrating ideas with metaphors. For example, in the second chapter, Guerra uses the metaphor of a plaster cast, noting that “the broken child is set into their family for healing and protection,” and “their sharp edges must be treated with care.” Perhaps most importantly, this book reminds adoptive parents that it is acceptable, and even expected, to be imperfect and sometimes overwhelmed.

A thoughtful, faith-based read that provides engaging insights on attachment issues.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-5962-4

Page Count: 92

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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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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