Reviews of the Week with Kate Washington, Brian Alexander, and More!

The Booklist Review of the Day, posted to the top of the Booklist Online home page each day of the week, spotlights exceptional upcoming titles that are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.

The Reviews of the Week, posted each Monday, offers a comprehensive look at the previous week’s awardees—while also piquing interest for the week ahead. Catch up on the week of February 16 below, then dive into the week at hand with today’s Review of the Day, When We Were Infinite, by Kelly Loy Gilbert. For the full week-in-review treatment, subscribe to our newsletter, Booklist Reader Update.

Tuesday, February 16

Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America, by Kate Washington

This is an eye-opening account from a full-time caregiver. Washington and her husband were young parents and aspiring professionals when her husband was diagnosed with lymphoma. Washington embarked on an exhausting caregiving stint that drained her physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally. Whether detailing aspects of her husband’s infirmities or describing herself sobbing helplessly as a physician chastises her for not taking better care of herself, Washington is brutally honest. She describes a never-ending cycle of soul-sucking experiences, from being dismissed by doctors to losing her privacy as her home turned into a care facility. She admits that she resented her ever-increasing responsibilities—and the unquestioning assumption that, as a woman, she would shoulder every task. Washington segues from her situation to the national level, warning of the widespread challenges faced by full-time, unpaid caregivers as they juggle medical care, emotional support, household management, bill-paying, parenting, and self-care tasks.

Wednesday, February 17

#MeToo and You: Everything You Need to Know about Consent, Boundaries, and More, by Halley Bondy and illustrated by Timothy Corbett

Adding to a growing list of books on the topic of consent is this guide for middle-grade and teen readers. Using a conversational tone, the opening chapter provides a broad overview of healthy and unhealthy relationships, consent, power dynamics, and boundaries, but it does not contain any explicit descriptions, allowing readers to stop here or continue based on their comfort levels. The second chapter builds on these basics with explicit definitions of such terms as predatorsexual assaultrapegrooming, and trauma. The third chapter addresses and debunks myths related to sexual abuse, such as “It’s my fault if it happens to me.” Successive chapters work together to offer tips on asking for help, being an ally, and taking action against sexual abuse. 

Thursday, February 18

The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town, by Brian Alexander

It’s a “Code Blue” moment for independent community hospitals across America. Many are not going to survive. Tragically, the extinction of these hospitals is happening in areas where they are most desperately needed; the populations they serve are poorer, sicker, older, and increasingly dependent on Medicaid and Medicare. Journalist Alexander delivers an intimate portrait of a struggling small hospital, CHWC, in Bryan, Ohio. The city of 8,500 is similar to other rural Midwest communities with its cornfields, aging town square, trailer parks, and a fragile economy with low-wage jobs. Although local residents commonly refer to their nonprofit hospital as a “Band-Aid station,” it offers a surprisingly wide range of medical services, including heart catheterizations and cancer care. Even as the plight of the townspeople is gloomy, the hospital staff’s public-mindedness and generosity are rousing. 

Friday, February 19

The Ten Year War: Obamacare and the Unfinished Crusade for Universal Coverage, by Jonathan Cohn

Acclaimed journalist Cohn is recognized as an expert on health care legislation, and within the framework of tracing the history of the Affordable Care Act passed by the Obama administration, he provides a précis of political shenanigans, governmental gridlock, and policy wrangling in a how-the-sausage-gets-made look at the legislative machinations that went into the ACA’s creation. Cohn’s focus may be on this one piece of legislation, but he also takes the long view of the politics of the late twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries, placing the battle for health care reform within the context of other federal administration challenges, including economic recessions and the auto industry bailout, to show the interconnections between Republican court-packing initiatives and the legal challenges launched after the ACA was enacted. Exposing both the back-slapping and the back-stabbing that goes on in such negotiations, Cohn names key players and shares sharp anecdotes that reveal how their diverse backgrounds, political tactics, and deal-making efforts played out regarding this one piece of critical governance.

mruzicka@ala.org'

About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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