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.
©2016 Cathleen Schine (P)2016 Macmillan Audio
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Cathleen Schine is a very funny and smart writer. She combines broad comedy here with genuine insights into the difficulties of aging and the difficulties of having an aging parent. Having recently been through the illness and death of a parent, I found sections of this novel deeply moving and stunningly accurate.
She gets into the heads of most of the characters, so you see things from all points of view--the adult children trying to do their best, the aging parent attempting to maintain independence and dignity. There are some wonderful bits of social satire, too, as when a child reared in our post-indoor-cigarette world asks, "What are ashtrays for?"
Schine has tremendous love and tenderness for all her characters, and this gives the novel a warmth that's pretty irresistible.
I found some of the comedy a little too broad and cartoony in places, and a climactic section that takes place on a family vacation seemed both rushed (thinly described) and (because the set-up seemed wrong) too long.
Overall, I was happy to listen and entertained and moved, which is a lot of to ask of any novel.
Cynthia Darlow has a fantastically rich, nuanced voice. Her tone for the aging mother can be a little schticky in places (stereotype of New York "Jewish mother" character) but she brought the story and copious dialogue to life. She communicated the love in the family exceptionally well.
"Funny, touching and spot on"
If you have an elderly parent or parents in your life, or if you are experiencing firsthand the tragicomic vicissitudes of growing old, this book is for you. My mother suffered with dementia for a decade and my 90-year-old father lives with my husband and me, so I am well-acquainted with the subject matter! There are lots of memoirs and novels out there about aging parents, and they are usually told from the point of view of the adult child, with emphasis on all the crap the child has to endure. This one is told mostly from the pov of the elderly mother and the result is both more entertaining and more illuminating. Brilliantly observed down to the smallest cringeworthy detail, yet not at all depressing. I laughed out loud throughout. Thanks Cathleen Schine for helping me understand my parents, and myself, a little better. You and your wonderful characters felt like old friends by the end.
"Very good- and helpful!"
Having parents in their mid-late 80s, I was surprised how much I related to this book and how very much it helped me. I thought my parents were different from others and basically kind of "crazy". Certain common characteristics came up many times even though my parents are different in many ways than those in this book. Still, I had to stop the audio several times to just think about what I was hearing- how much I misunderstood and as a result was too often inconsiderate and impatient with my parents. I have been frustrated, disappointed and non-comprehending of much of their behavior in the past several years. As a result, I have not acted very well myself around them. I see things from a different point of view now. I was able to see things from Joy's - and Aaron's viewpoint, and objectively observe the 2 adult children and while relating to them, could also see where they were going wrong in relating to their elderly parent(s).
Thanks to the author and Audible!
"Wonderful wonderful book"
Extraordinary look at again. Funny, touching, sad, and more. Left me thinking. Cannot wait for my book club meeting so 8 can discuss it.
"Fabulous performance.Better than reading."
Performance was fantastic. Reader does voices of characters exceptionally well, making this a far better listen than a book for reading. The story is painfully realistic, accurate, and thankfully, funny. If you want resolution, you won't get it, as is so often true in life. I enjoyed this book, and didn't love it. No life insights for me, though I appreciated the journey.
"Everything an audible book should be"
Wonderful reader who gave texture and nuance to every character
Not for readers who want plot-driven novels but much enjoyed by this reader for its humor and insights into character
"touching realistic tale of aging"
i didn't read the print version but the audio was fantastic - her NY accent made it so much more realistic and believable. for sure the audio version adds another dimension impossible to get in print
doesn't compare to anything i've read
her voices for all the different characters are so realistic and perfect - i can easily visualize each age, person and their interactions
The whole book moved me - i saw my mother-in-law's aging in a new perspective and as i approach that age (in 20 years!!) i try to visualize what my own kids will do. it's a tough dichotomy but i would suggest all boomers read it
well written and you can tell that the author is in fact talented but the subject matter and plot are really depressing- just constant sadness with a letdown ending that resolved nothing -can't recommend
A week after finishing the book I'm still thinking about it. That's when I know what I read was truly remarkable! Truly poignant story with Fantastic dialogue. The narrator was absolutely brilliant.
The authors wonderful insights into aging representing the aged person as well as children of the first. The dialogs was funny, insightful and poignant. I can't say enough how wonderful this book is.
It's hard to imagine a better narrator than Cynthia Darloe. Seriously wondering if this book would have been as compelling had I read it rather than listened to it because of the narrator .
"Hard to follow, hard to stay with..."
I am half way into this and I am trying to stay with it. Very slow, very boring.
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