Archive for the ‘ Memoirs ’ Category

5-Second Book Review: Breeding in Captivity by Stacy Bolt

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Looking for a good momoir? I have one for you. This one chronicles one cynical woman’s path of infertility. Spoiler alert: It has a peachy keen ending.

5-Second Book Review–here I go:

If you or a friend has lived with fertility issues, check out the new memoir, Breeding in Captivity: One Woman’s Unusual Path to Motherhood. Author Stacy Bolt skips the usual trappings of sentimentality and conviction. Instead, her bold and candid writing guides the reader through the disappointment and agony of trying to have a baby with no luck. Her dark sense of humor keeps her going through failed prescriptions, IUI treatments, endometrial surgery and adoptions. She’s so relatable because she’s never sure what she should do next. In the end—with support from her great husband and friends—she finally gets what she’s looking for. She provides solace to women who are struggling and lets everyone else know exactly what it’s like.

 

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New Book ‘Without Tim’ Releases on World Suicide Prevention Day

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and one mom has written a memoir in the hopes that her story will save someone else’s child or loved one. Her son, Tim Schenke, committed suicide at age 18 in 2008 when he stepped in front of a moving train. The boy suffered from depression but was highly functioning at school as a student and an athlete. Of course, his mother, Lisa Schenke, wishes she had noticed more and done more. That’s why she wrote Without TimShe’s spent years healing from her devastation and giving advice to other parents. Sadly, her son was one in 10 kids who committed suicide in Southern Monmouth County, New Jersey, in a four year period. The area reeled from sadness. This is her story.

Through writing and reaching out, Lisa has slowly started to pick up the pieces of her life. She had to–she has other children to love and protect. Here’s what she has to say about her new book, Without Tim.

KK: September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day (and September is Suicide Prevention Month).  How are you bringing awareness and changing families by sharing your son’s story?
LS: 
I am truly grateful that suicide prevention is getting more and more attention each year. The takeaway message from the awareness campaign is:  Suicide IS preventable. I feel that the idea of a particular day/month continues to raise awareness and that is very important because it spreads information about the warning signs and treatment options, and helps decrease the stigma surrounding suicide.

KK: Is there a checklist you would like to share with parents on the signs of mental health issues in their children? What do you now know about the important “TO DOs” about depressed children?
LS: 
As a mom and parent, I would recommend trying to stay as positive as possible — i.e. continue to reinforce that everything will be ok, that you are there for them, that things will get better. Sometimes when I was under stress, I don’t think I stayed as positive as I would have liked to be. It’s hard. Try to help your child understand that it’s ok to have fears and insecurities and that there is a way to get to a better place. Try to remain calm and patient; something I wish I would have been better at. (more…)

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Must Read Then Watch: ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘The White Queen’

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

I’ve had two summer obsessions–and it wouldn’t be fair or nice to keep them all to myself. These are books turned into TV shows that I can’t get enough of. They are so brilliant that they won’t let me sleep or even bother to watch my kids. (I exaggerate, but just a little.) I’ll just be honest, I also love how sexy these stories are.

I kept hearing about Orange is the New Black from friends and in news stories online. I wasn’t too excited about it, but I thought I’d check it out since I have a Netflix account for my kids. Besides, did you see True Blood this season? It was barely watchable. Summer TV was a vast wasteland of bore. That was, until I binge-watched OITNB. It’s about Piper Chapman, a seemingly nice girl with a nice fiance who all of a sudden gets a call from the Feds. Her secret is that 10 years ago, she carried a suitcase full of drug money for her flashy, intriguing and sexually satisfying girlfriend who imported heroin. For her indiscretion, Chapman pleads guilty and must serve 15 months in minimum security federal prison. The main character is such a delightfully complicated mess on the show that I dare you not to watch. But even better are all of the supporting actresses–the women in prison with their own imaginative stories. Her fiance, played by Jason Biggs, dutifully visits her while her ex-drug-dealer-girlfriend (Laura Prepon) taunts her in their shared prison quarters.

Even better, I found out that the basis of the story is real. Orange is the New Black was a memoir first, written by the real Piper whose last name is Kerman. The book is fantastic, too, but it’s not nearly as dramatic. Kerman got herself together in real life. Her alter-ego Chapman has a very long way to go. I can’t believe I have to wait another year for season two.

My husband is jealous of my love of The White Queenboth the book by Phillipa Gregory and the TV show on Starz. I voraciously read it in two days, and then I sat down to watch the first three episodes on demand. OMG, if you are into crazy English history–war, blood, romance, plots, witches–you will believe you’ve hit the jackpot. The show follows the same arc as the book. The mostly true story is about the beautiful common woman Elizabeth Woodville who entrances the young King Edward during The War of the Roses in the 1400s. She reigns as queen and must constantly woo and scheme to keep her royal position and her head. The story is told through the eyes of women and suggests that they played more of a role in medieval politics than they’re often given credit for.

The White Queen book is part of a series, and I’m already onto The Red Queen. It’s every bit as addictive and good. I don’t know if Starz plans to follow Gregory’s brilliant writings into a second season, but I certainly hope that they do.

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One Mom Gets Sober: Read Heather Kopp’s ‘Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk’

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Books about women and alcohol are all the rage this summer. I recently posted about Her Best-Kept SecretToday, I want to suggest a memoir about a mom who got toasted way too much and then worked hard to fix her life. Author Heather Kopp‘s Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk is a great book for any parent who’s interested in alcohol and how it affects our kids. It’s especially helpful for, well, drunks. Heather tells you more about her incredible journey from addicted to clean below:

“I recently got an email from a mom I’ll call Lucy who recognized herself in my book. Which is to say, she’s an admitted alcoholic who hides her problem well.

Lucy is married to a prominent doctor, the mother of two school-aged kids and involved in her church. She admits that by all counts, she has a beautiful life. “So why can’t I stop drinking?!” she wrote. “How the hell did this happen?”

My guess is what happened to Lucy is what’s happening to a growing number of moms. It’s become trendy these days to combine happy hour with play dates, or to reach for a glass or two of wine in the afternoon to take the edge off a hard day with the kids. For most moms, that’s fine. But for women predisposed to alcoholism, pretty soon happy hour turns into a daily habit—and every day becomes a hard day.

Once we realize we’re stuck, denial kicks in. “I know for sure that I’m a great mom,” Lucy wrote. “My secret drinking hasn’t ever harmed my kids. I never slur or stumble. Sometimes, I think it makes me a more loving, patient mom.”

I don’t doubt that Lucy can drink copious amounts of alcohol with nary a misplaced foot or word. Increased tolerance is a hallmark of alcoholism. Neither do I doubt that drinking makes Lucy less irritable with her kids. Nothing soothes an alcoholic’s agitation more quickly than a drink.

But here’s the rub. And I say this with love: We’re kidding ourselves if we think that our addiction to any mood altering drug or activity isn’t affecting our kids. And we’re dangerously deluded if we conclude that it can actually improve our parenting.

By the way, this was me to a T. My own kids were in junior high and high school when I spiraled into alcoholism. I clung like a cat on a curtain to this idea that what my kids didn’t know couldn’t hurt them—but if I didn’t get to drink, I just might.

What I failed to reckon was that kids sense it in their bones when you are not fully present. They know you’re numbing your feelings and some part of you has gone missing. Usually, they just can’t put it into words until later. My kids were grown before they could name the myriad ways alcohol robbed them of Mom.

Of course, many addicted moms aren’t so subtle in the havoc they wreak. I know plenty who have lost custody of their kids because of drugs or alcohol. Ironically, though, it’s those of us with the wherewithal to work hard to try to manage our drinking who often stay stuck the longest. We high-functioning, fine-wino types take first place in rationalization and image management, but we’re the last to reach for help.

I suffered for twelve long years before I finally admitted my life was unmanageable and got into recovery. Since then, I’ve struggled to name and grieve the losses—conversations I never had with my kids, intimate moments we never shared—because I don’t even know what I missed.

Of course, I would have done better if I had known better. Which is part of why I wrote Sober Mercies. If you’re struggling with an addiction or know someone who is, maybe my story can serve as a kind of catalyst for healing.

It’s never too late to reach for help. And more important, it’s never too soon.”

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Best Summer Books 2013

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

My friends are already asking me what to read on their summer vacations. The truth is, I have no idea. Unlike this time last year, there are no breakout books like Wild and Gone Girl. June looks like a slower month for book releases, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something amazing. We all just have to look a little harder (and consult the experts on these things). I checked out best-of lists from Publisher’s Weekly and The New York Times and O Magazineand here are my faves:

Kiss Me First
Lottie Moggach
PW writes: This disturbing, engrossing psychological thriller will keep you up nights as the founder of a website that discusses philosophy lures a lonely young woman into a twisted scenario involving identity takeover via social media. A wild and wicked debut novel.

 

 

The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living
Wendy Jehanara Tremayne
PW writes: Summer is a perfect time to ponder—and try—living with less. Tremayne’s whimsically illustrated back-to-the-land memoir and DIY manual, which PW called a “rollicking, inspiring tale,” convincingly advocates for a “decommodified life.” Readers will be moved to consider everything from the concept of the gift economy to recipes for homemade toothpaste and kombucha.

 

Flora
Gail Godwin
PW writes: Charismatic Helen Anstruther, the wry adolescent narrator of Godwin’s new novel, is left in the care of the “hopelessly effusive” Flora, a young family friend. The isolated and rambling house they share once served people recovering from tuberculosis or alcoholism. It’s 1945, Helen’s father is away on business and her mother is long dead, and the summer she spends with Flora—full of boredom, desire, and ultimately heartbreak—profoundly transforms them both. Godwin knows how to deliver rich, textured tales.

The Silver Star
Jeannette Walls
writes:  Twelve-year-old “Bean” Holladay and her older sister, Liz, aren’t immediately concerned when their mother abandons them to “make some time and space for myself…to find the magic again”; she’s done this before—to chase a man, or her dream of being a singer. But when she doesn’t return after two weeks, the girls, who’ve been subsisting on a diet of chicken potpies, revert to plan B—buying bus tickets from California to their mother’s hometown in Virginia—to avoid being taken away by social services.

And the Mountains Echoed
Khaled Hoseinni
writes: And the Mountains Echoed opens like a thunderclap, with a fable of sacrifice told by a destitute Afghan villager to his son and daughter. What makes his sad tale even more searing is that the children are unaware their father is about to sell one of them. From this dramatic opening spins a constellation of star-crossed characters.

 

 

Sisterland
Curtis Sittenfeld
NYT writes: The high-concept gimmick at the heart of Ms. Sittenfeld’s new novel, “Sisterland,” is the premise of twin sisters who have strange psychic powers that enable them to foresee the future. One twin tries to suppress her ESP; like Samantha, the nose-twitching witch in “Bewitched,” she just wants to live life as an ordinary suburban housewife. The other sister cultivates her unusual gifts and becomes a professional psychic; she gains national fame when she warns that a terrible earthquake is going to hit the St. Louis area and is interviewed on the Today show. In both books Ms. Sittenfeld’s gifts for portraying the inner lives of her heroines manage to transcend the silliness and contrivance of her plots.

Bad Monkey
Carl Hiassen
NYT writes: A washed-up monkey, sex in a morgue, a severed arm at the end of a fishhook and other Carl Hiaasen capers make Bad Monkey his funniest novel in almost a decade.

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