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January 24, 2017

They May Not Mean To, But They Do


They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
Fiction
2016 Macmillan Audio
Read by Cynthia Darlow
Finished on August 31, 2016
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Joy Bergman is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would prefer. She won't take their advice, and she won't take an antidepressant. Her marriage to their father, Aaron, has lasted through health and dementia, as well as some phenomenally lousy business decisions. The Bergman clan has always stuck together, growing as it incorporated in-laws, ex-in-laws, and same-sex spouses. But families don't just grow, they grow old.

Cathleen Schine's They May Not Mean To, But They Do is a tender, sometimes hilarious intergenerational story about searching for where you belong as your family changes with age.

When Aaron dies, Molly and Daniel have no shortage of solutions for their mother's loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy's college days. They didn't count on Joy suddenly becoming as willful and rebellious as their own kids.

With sympathy, humor, and truth, Schine explores the intrusion of old age into a large and loving family. They May Not Mean To, But They Do is a radiantly compassionate look at three generations, all coming of age together.

Recommended by a fellow blogger (JoAnn, I believe), I decided to give the audio version of this book a try. It wasn't bad, but I didn't love it. The reader did a great job, but some sentiments and thoughts about aging rang true and were painfully sad to hear. At times, the reality of this book made me uncomfortable as both a child of an aging parent and as a parent of an adult child. This would be a great book to discuss in a book club along with Being Mortal. Overall, They May Not Mean To, But They Do is both a sad and humorous look at aging.



10 comments:

  1. Yes, it could have been me... I read this in print and gave it a solid 4 stars. The reality was brutal at times, but I appreciated the way Schine was able to interject at least some humor. Being able to relate to both the parents and adult children was another plus for me. Great idea to pair it with Being Mortal!

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    1. JoAnn, I really wanted to love this one. It was still pretty good, but just not the winner I had hoped it would be. The reality was definitely brutal and I found myself cringing at some of the comments by the "kids." I hope I never sound that thoughtless or unkind to my mom.

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  2. I think I probably need to try this one. I remember it being talked about last year. Aging, parent or child, is a tough thing. Both being the child of an aging parent or the parent of an adult child - yes? :-)

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    1. Kay, I think you'd enjoy this one. Lots of thought-provoking topics with regard to the aging population.

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  3. I'm in the same spot as you - an aging mother and a grown child. I'm not sure I want to read this.

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    1. Kathy, it's a tough read. I think a nonfiction book, such as Being Mortal is better, although the humor in this one did help add some levity to an otherwise sad situation.

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  4. I don't have kids but I have an aging parent that I care for and as an only child it can be overwhelming. Sometimes I like to read books like these to remind myself that I'm not alone and that everyone goes through this. But, I certainly have to be in the right mood for a read like this.

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    1. Iliana, my husband is an only child and I remember how stressful it was for him/us when his mother became unwell. It didn't help that we lived in Nebraska and she was in California. My own mother is now alone (my stepdad passed away three years ago) and I am so thankful that we are able to retire this May and move to Oregon to be closer to her (in her house, as a matter of fact!). I think more and more people are going back to that way of taking care of loved ones as they age and I'm thankful we're at a point in our lives that we can do it for her. I know that not everyone can, so I feel extremely fortunate.

      I think this book is good to help validate one's feelings, but I still think Being Mortal (which is nonfiction) is the best.

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  5. I seem to be on a kick of reading stories with old(ish) people as main characters. Right now, I'm reading Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir by Diana Athill. This sounds like it might fight into that genre.

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    1. Deb, I seem to be gravitating toward this subject matter. I've heard that Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is very good. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts once you've finished. I may have the Athill book in my stacks somewhere, too. Have you read Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan? I highly recommend it, if you enjoy this genre. You can find my review here.

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