A well-structured journey through the pitfalls of parenting kids collaboratively.

COMBATIVE TO COLLABORATIVE

THE CO-PARENTING CODE

Harlow’s second self-help guide, following Happily Divorced (2019), is for readers striving to co-parent well after separation.

This book offers a variety of suggestions for how to navigate the most difficult decisions regarding co-parenting. She wants parents to thrive in collaborative relationships rather than fight at every step—or just try to “get through” until the children are grown. She’s optimistic that, in most cases, improvement in co-parenting is possible. Harlow covers a wide range of relevant topics, starting with “uncoupling”: how couples might tell their kids about a decision to separate and how to address questions of custody, living arrangements, and potential reconciliations. She then introduces decisions that need to be made when first establishing a co-parenting plan, including elements that one might not consider immediately, such as arrangements involving pets, vacations, extracurricular activities. The author also tackles questions regarding money, new partners, and stepparenting. Harlow is consistent in her approach, often bringing her suggestions back to the golden Rule. She wants co-parents to be empathetic, intentional, and good communicators, even coining a new term that encompasses these states: matter-of-fact caring. The clearly organized structure of this book successfully presents the author’s advice in a logical order while also laying out personal experiences—such as finding a new home after a divorce, attending parent-teacher conferences, dealing with unexpected events, and more—as she tried to build a collaborative co-parenting framework with her ex-husband; at one point, her son writes one section about his parents’ relationship. However, what’s missing in this book is expert advice and cited evidence to back up Harlow’s advice and claims, particularly in sections such as discipline, in which insights from a child or family psychologist might have strengthened the author’s opinions. A few more anecdotes from other families would also have provided a more varied perspective.

A well-structured journey through the pitfalls of parenting kids collaboratively.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 119

Publisher: Promethean Publishing LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2021

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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One of the funniest—and truest—books in recent memory and a must-have for fans of the poet laureate of human foibles.

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THE BEST OF ME

A welcome greatest-hits package from Sedaris.

It’s not easy to pick out fact from fiction in the author’s sidelong takes on family, travel, relationships, and other topics. He tends toward the archly droll in either genre, both well represented in this gathering, always with a perfectly formed crystallization of our various embarrassments and discomforts. An example is a set piece that comes fairly early in the anthology: the achingly funny “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” with its spot-on reminiscence of taking a French class with a disdainful instructor, a roomful of clueless but cheerful students, and Sedaris himself, who mangles the language gloriously, finally coming to understand his teacher’s baleful utterances (“Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section”) without being able to reply in any way that does not destroy the language of Voltaire and Proust. Sedaris’ register ranges from doggerel to deeply soulful, as when he reflects on the death of a beloved sibling and its effects on a family that has been too often portrayed as dysfunctional when it’s really just odd: “The word,” he writes, “is overused….My father hoarding food inside my sister’s vagina would be dysfunctional. His hoarding it beneath the bathroom sink, as he is wont to do, is, at best, quirky and at worst unsanitary.” There’s not a dud in the mix, though Sedaris is always at his best when he’s both making fun of himself and satirizing some larger social trend (of dog-crazy people, for instance: “They’re the ones who, when asked if they have children, are likely to answer, ‘A black Lab and a sheltie-beagle mix named Tuckahoe’ ”). It’s a lovely mélange by a modern Mark Twain who is always willing to set himself up as a shlemiel in the interest of a good yarn.

One of the funniest—and truest—books in recent memory and a must-have for fans of the poet laureate of human foibles.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-62824-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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