Monday, July 6, 2015

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison

Benjamin Benjamin has reached an extremely low point in his life--he is unemployed, has lost his family, lives in a crappy apartment, has only one friend . . . you get the picture. After completing a course on the Fundamentals of Caregiving, held in the basement of the Abundant Life Foursquare Church, he gets a job as caregiver for a young man with muscular dystrophy. Trev's life is obviously not without its challenges, including the fact that he has no relationship with his father, who left after Trev was diagnosed and has been trying to work his way back into his son's life pretty much ever since. After an accident leaves Trev's dad seriously injured, Ben eventually talks Trev's mother into letting the two of them go on a road trip from Washington to Utah to visit. Along the way, the two have various adventures, meet eccentric but lovable (mostly) characters, and gain insights into how they can make their lives more rewarding/happier.

The novel is funny, but the reader recognizes early on that Ben's problems started with a tragedy and, although exactly what the tragedy was is revealed slowly, we know enough to feel an impending sense of doom. For me, just knowing that the details were coming and they were going to be bad made it pretty much impossible to enjoy the lighthearted parts of the story. So, overall, I wouldn't recommend The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving--and I say that knowing that I gave a positive review to another book that mingled humor and tragedy (Big Little Lies).  I guess I can laugh at adult tragedies, but those involving children . . . not so much.

Favorite passage:
I know I've lost my mind. But I'm not concerned, because it's the first thing I've lost in a long time that actually feels good.

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