From Publishers Weekly
The 19 families profiled in this absorbing book face a familiar litany of domestic dysfunction: infidelities, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, messy divorces and the intergenerational estrangement of immigrants. Novelist and social documentarian Bronson (What Should I Do with My Life?
) finds the solutions to their dilemmas in the good old-fashioned elements of character and action, as people take stock of themselves and their motivations and painstakingly piece together their relationships and lives. Bronson's is an unromantic view of family life; its foundations, he believes, are not soul-mate bonding or dramatic emotional catharses, but steady habits of hard work and compromise, realistic expectations and the occasional willingness to sever a relationship that's beyond repair. But he also has an optimistic view of today's crazy-quilt of blended and unconventional families, reassuring commitment-shy young adults that "the golden era of family is not in our past, it's in our future." Bronson occasionally lapses into shallow pop psychology, as when he chalks up one husband's philandering to the oxytocin "high" caused by sex with someone new. But usually he offers a probing, clear-eyed, hopeful narrative of familial problems that many readers will recognize. Photos.
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Bronson interviewed 700 people, 19 of whom are chronicled here. His book is "about decoding the mystery of family life." The stories center on men and women who lead satisfying lives with their families despite destructive childhoods, people who overcome their impulses to repeat what was inflicted upon them, and those who heal in their own particular way, not conforming to any fashion. There are some relationships rescued from the brink and some people whose lives improved after a much-needed divorce or break from their parents. Some couples created compromises by which both get their needs met and contribute equally to the family culture. Others take responsibility for the rest of their lives and no longer let themselves be victims of their experiences. The author examines such subjects as divorce, death, illness, money, prejudice, and abuse. The author of What Should I Do with My Life?
(2002) posits that to give and receive love during hard times, it helps to have been shown how beforehand. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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