"In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the "crazy closet"--with predictable results--the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed. While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies--an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades--the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care" --
Chast pulls no punches. In her story, I see the story of my own
I had hoped to be able to share this one with my 88 year old mother to generate some conversation. My father passed away in a nursing home last year, and I so wish we could have done things differently. But while this book absolutely nails my experiences with my aging parents, it's not going to be shared with Mom. I think she would find it rather depressing and be offended at some of the humor.
Still, if you have an aging loved one in your family, or want to contemplate your own future, I think this book is quite thought provoking and recommended. 4 stars
This book was surprisingly comforting for me, although the topics explored are anything but. Three years ago my father experienced a health event that brought about major changes for him and my mother, including moving out of the home they had lived in for over 30 years. They had prepared for this in some ways, but not in others, and my brother and I have been managing the situation since. Chast perfectly captures her emotions, which are very much like my own and for that I am grateful. It is tremendously comforting to know there are others who have strained relations with a parent, and ambivalent feelings about managing their care. Similarly, my brother and I are not the only ones dealing with the seemingly endless ways to spend our parents' money on care. And yet, since my parents are still living, it's also disconcerting to read Chast's frank account of her parents' final weeks. When the time comes, will I be better prepared by having read this book?
I don't know the answer to that question, but highly recommend this book for anyone with aging parents.
As we all have aging relatives ourselves - or may be tiptoeing to the abyss ourselves - I guarantee you will have at least one of those "Aha! That is SOOO true!" moments. Humor can help us cope with so many of life's (and death's) unpleasant realities. Chast's efforts in this regard are receiving well deserved accolades: National Book Critics Circle Award, Kirkus Prize Winner to name a few.
Can't recommend this book enough.
This is up there with Being Mortal as a book that should be read and discussed by families, so that everyone has some idea of what they want to occur, and where they see their lives going when they reach old age.
It brought back many memories of my father, but it also made me feel depressed as my mother is now in a nursing home after numerous falls. I don't recommend reading this over the holidays as i did. I originally thought that this would be a humerous take on parent-child relationships, not coming to grips with their deterioration & death.
This graphic book is not for everyone.
Beautifully done. This is a perfect
New Yorker cartoonist Chast has drawn and written the story of her parents' aging. She looks honestly at the indignities of growing older and at the ways that watching her parents age makes her re-examine her feelings for them, her memories of a strained only childhood, and the changes that the inevitable decline causes, both for her and for Elizabeth and George. She doesn't shy away from the universal difficulties so many face as they age, physically, mentally, emotionally, but she also doesn't shy away from an examination of her own feelings about caring for elderly parents and the generally undiscussed aspects of doing. The fact that her parents' aging doesn't change the fact of her sometimes tough, sometimes contentious relationship with them (and specifically her mother) is also well on display. Combining comics and prose here often highlights the black humor involved in the end stages of life and the fact that if you didn't laugh, you'd cry many a time. She chronicles Elizabeth and George's reluctance to discuss death or to acknowledge their reduced abilities, their fierce attempt to hold onto their independence, and their eventual, unavoidable decline into dementia and physical frailty. It's tough subject matter indeed.
The memoir is honest, sometimes brutally honest in ways that feel intrusive. The photographs of her parents' apartment after they leave it for assisted living are unspeakably sad although Chast seems to be trying for a levity with them by highlighting the ancient and long discontinued products in them. Her frustration with her parents comes through the story loud and clear and I do appreciate that she hasn't turned them into undeserved saints by virtue of their deaths but sometimes it does feel as if she goes too far in revealing them in all of their truth. Although the exact situations she faces are hers and her parents' alone, the general feel of the memoir will certainly be relatable for many caring for their own parent or parents. I have to admit that I am not a fan of the graphic format, feeling pulled between pictures and words, never allowing me to fully engage in one or the other and this memoir hasn't changed my mind. For me, they do not compliment each other entirely, instead leaving me feeling that the exclusion of one or the other would allow the author to go deeper into the chosen medium rather than splitting the difference between the two. Then again, in such a difficult book, perhaps going deeper would have been a mistake that magnified the things I already had trouble with. I watched my mother experience much of what is portrayed here when she cared for my grandmother but I never doubted that there was a deep and abiding love between them no matter what, a feeling I didn't see enough evidence of in this. This is an unflinching look at the way we avoid the end of life, the reality and weight of it, and how we all finally do have to deal with it no matter how unpleasant it might be.
It's also somewhat informative. I don't know that it was specifically her intention, but she does discuss costs and insurance issues they ran into that made me think about things I really hadn't before.
It was a quick and enjoyable read about a topic that can be pretty depressing, but she handles with a lighter, more comical feel. Then again, isn't it easier to laugh about it when it's happening to somebody else?
I recommend this to anybody who is aging (so everybody!) and particularly those whose parents are getting "up there".
New Year's resolutions: get all those POAs, DNRs and other TLAs (three letter acronyms) in order; keep the
I was a little disappointed in her book "What