A compassionate guide that can help parents and kids with tough questions.

OSCAR J

SKIPPER CAN NO LONGER PLAY . . . AND "DADDY CAN NO LONGER STAY"

A debut book steers young readers and their families through experiences of loss.

Twin stories in rhyming verses gently treat the death of a pet dog and parental divorce. The language is simple, often lilting, and should be attractive to grade school readers. Adolphe’s list of definitions at the back of each tale welcomes children to the pleasures of learning more words. Some entries seem a bit surprising, such as “Die/Died,” given the obvious subject matter of the volume, but others are both charming and important: “Embrace” (“to put arms around someone”), “Grief,” “Love,” “Embarrassed,” and “Ashamed.” The list encourages readers to accept the truth of their feelings. “Skipper Can No Longer Play” tells the story of a beloved dog who ages, still eager to see his boy, Oscar J, but is slowing down in his activities and agility. One day when Oscar comes home from school, Skip is gone. Mom explains that this disappearance is difficult but necessary: “Just as each year green leaves age, / Turn brown and fall dead from a tree, / All that is now living one day will die.” At first, Oscar thinks it must be his fault, for not minding his mother or not eating his vegetables, but she reassures him that something more mysterious is at work, and that Skip can be held in the memory. “Memory” and “Imagination” would have been useful terms for the definitions list, as they name the abstract concepts the book works hard to illustrate through narrative and dialogue. Oscar’s resourceful mother tells him to picture Skip frolicking and running, even misbehaving. As the mental images add up, some with humorous memories attached, the pain lessens. “Daddy Can No Longer Stay” likewise reaches for a comforting, positive outcome; Oscar is still not to blame, and he can look forward to seeing his father often, just in a different house. “So,” asks Oscar, “does this mean you both still love me and want me as your son?” His dad answers that they were the “proudest parents on earth!” the very day he was born.

A compassionate guide that can help parents and kids with tough questions.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4918-7992-4

Page Count: 54

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2017

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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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A highly readable account of how solid research and personal testing of self-help techniques saved a couple's marriage after...

HOW NOT TO HATE YOUR HUSBAND AFTER KIDS

Self-help advice and personal reflections on avoiding spousal fights while raising children.

Before her daughter was born, bestselling author Dunn (Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?: And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask, 2009, etc.) enjoyed steady work and a happy marriage. However, once she became a mother, there never seemed to be enough time, sleep, and especially help from her husband. Little irritations became monumental obstacles between them, which led to major battles. Consequently, they turned to expensive couples' therapy to help them regain some peace in life. In a combination of memoir and advice that can be found in most couples' therapy self-help books, Dunn provides an inside look at her own vexing issues and the solutions she and her husband used to prevent them from appearing in divorce court. They struggled with age-old battles fought between men and women—e.g., frequency of sex, who does more housework, who should get up with the child in the middle of the night, why women need to have a clean house, why men need more alone time, and many more. What Dunn learned via therapy, talks with other parents, and research was that there is no perfect solution to the many dynamics that surface once couples become parents. But by using time-tested techniques, she and her husband learned to listen, show empathy, and adjust so that their former status as a happy couple could safely and peacefully morph into a happy family. Readers familiar with Dunn's honest and humorous writing will appreciate the behind-the-scenes look at her own semi-messy family life, and those who need guidance through the rough spots can glean advice while being entertained—all without spending lots of money on couples’ therapy.

A highly readable account of how solid research and personal testing of self-help techniques saved a couple's marriage after the birth of their child.

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-26710-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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