A heartfelt, if overly upbeat, caregiving account.



Buska (Time Outs for Grown-Ups, 2004) offers a collection of anecdotes about caring for a son with disabilities. 

The author’s son, Paul, came into the world slightly smaller than his three older siblings and was given oxygen shortly after birth. By his second birthday, he still wasn’t walking. A diagnostic team test at the Children’s Hospital in San Diego couldn’t pinpoint a cause, but they made a diagnosis of cerebral palsy given Paul’s “spasticity in his muscles, a wandering eye, and balance problems.” Later in life, doctors would add Asperger’s syndrome as a possible, if also unproven, diagnosis. “Maybe he has one disability; maybe two,” writes the author. “It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s Paul.” Buska, Paul’s devoted caretaker, dispenses the health history of her now-49-year-old son’s life in brief chapters, including a few written in Paul’s voice. This book lacks the narrative, chronological arc of a conventional memoir; instead, it’s closer to a series of anecdotes. It’s unclear if the author’s intent is to inspire compassion for the disabled in general or simply to make her son’s everyday life relatable to nondisabled readers; for example, she repeatedly mentions that Paul frequents Starbucks, is a fan of the rock group Kiss, and is uninhibitedly friendly. However, although she shows that Paul’s physical struggles are different from his peers’, she also shows that his emotional ones are universal: “I’m not perfect,” Paul says. “I get angry. I feel better when I’m happy, and I like to make other people happy.” That said, the author’s consistently cheery tone when discussing her caregiving results in a book that reveals little of her own turmoil. Indeed, the closest it comes to doing so is on the last page, when Buska describes a difficult, frustrating night, and even this seems too neatly resolved: “I was crumbling, falling apart, saying, ‘I can’t do this.’ Often, God teasingly addresses me as ‘Ms. Fix It’….On this particular night, he didn’t call me Ms. Fix It; he told me to lower my expectations—of myself and of Paul. I did. Peace returned to earth.”

A heartfelt, if overly upbeat, caregiving account.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5035-9955-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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