The Caregiver
From the critically acclaimed author of This Burns My Heart comes gorgeous, emotionally wise tale about a daughter who unearths the hidden life of her enigmatic mother.Mara Alencar’s mother Ana is the moon, the sun, the stars. Ana, a struggling voice-over actress, is an admirably brave and recklessly impulsive woman who does everything in her power to care for her little girl. With no other family or friends her own age, Ana eclipses Mara’s entire world. They take turns caring for each other—in ways big and small. Their arrangement begins to unravel when Ana becomes involved with a civilian rebel group attempting to undermine the city's torturous Police Chief, who rules over 1980s Rio de Janeiro with terrifying brutality. Ana makes decisions that indelibly change their shared life. When Mara is forced to escape, she emigrates to California where she finds employment as a caregiver to a young woman dying of stomach cancer. It’s here that she begins to grapple with her turbulent past and starts to uncover vital truths—about her mother, herself, and what it means to truly take care of someone. Told with vivid imagery and subtle poignancy, The Caregiver is a moving and profound story that asks us to investigate who we are—as children and parents, immigrants and citizens, and ultimately, humans looking for vital connectivity.

The Caregiver Details

TitleThe Caregiver
Author
ReleaseSep 25th, 2018
PublisherSimon Schuster
ISBN-139781501178788
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

The Caregiver Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    The book begins in California in the 1990’s when twenty six year old Mara Alencar, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil is a caregiver to an affluent woman with stomach cancer. In these early pages, I found Mara’s reactions to America fascinating and so enlightening as she tells of all of the things she has been surprised about in the ten years she has been in America. The narrative describes these things for several pages - how much is free here, public bathrooms, so many cars, that single wom The book begins in California in the 1990’s when twenty six year old Mara Alencar, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil is a caregiver to an affluent woman with stomach cancer. In these early pages, I found Mara’s reactions to America fascinating and so enlightening as she tells of all of the things she has been surprised about in the ten years she has been in America. The narrative describes these things for several pages - how much is free here, public bathrooms, so many cars, that single women could be friends with married women, that it wasn’t okay for husbands to beat their wives, how everyone could eat at restaurants, that not everyone was white, grandparents lived separate from their grandchildren, that there were no words for certain things and so much more in these pages. This gave me a perspective that I quite honestly had not given much thought about, how strange things here might seem to an immigrant. Mara as an immigrant is only one facet of the story. This is a multilayered story which covers a number of themes in a cohesive way . We are soon taken back to her childhood in this well written, first person narrative, taking us to Copacabana, Brazil in the 1970’s when she was eight years old. It’s in this time and place that we get a glimpse of the unconditional love of a mother for her daughter as her mother Ana gets caught up in a political scheme with a police chief who tortures people and the dissidents, the rebel guerrillas. Ana is a voice over actress who will do what it takes to provide for her daughter, even putting herself in danger. A horrific event takes place before Mara’s eyes and over the years Mara’s view of what happened and her mother’s role is never clear for her. She loves her mother and at the same time believes the worst about her. There is yet another layer here with Mara’s role as a caregiver. How Kathryn deals with her illness is poignantly described and is even more impactful knowing that Samuel Park knew of which he wrote, dying of stomach cancer after this novel was written. It’s a captivating story about many things, not the least of which is a mother’s love for her daughter and a young woman coming to terms with the past. I received an advanced copy of this book from Simon & Schuster through NetGalley.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, how I love a mother-daughter story. The Caregiver is set in beautiful Rio de Janeiro in 1980s. Ana is everything to her daughter, Mara. She lives paycheck to paycheck as a voice-over actress, and is assertive, resilient, and reckless all at the same time. Ana has a fierce love for her daughter, but her limitations hold her back from being a traditional mom. As a result, Mara ends up mothering Ana and growing up earlier than her time.Things begin to fall apart when Ana becomes involved in a h Oh, how I love a mother-daughter story. The Caregiver is set in beautiful Rio de Janeiro in 1980s. Ana is everything to her daughter, Mara. She lives paycheck to paycheck as a voice-over actress, and is assertive, resilient, and reckless all at the same time. Ana has a fierce love for her daughter, but her limitations hold her back from being a traditional mom. As a result, Mara ends up mothering Ana and growing up earlier than her time.Things begin to fall apart when Ana becomes involved in a hostile group trying to rid the city of its despicably brutal police chief. Her actions abruptly change their lives and not for the better. Mara has no choice but to flee Brazil for safety, and she emigrates to the United States. There she becomes the sole caregiver for a woman, Kathryn, diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. Through her service towards Kathryn, Mara learns about herself and addresses her incongruous and unusual relationship with her mother. The mother-daughter push and pull relationship can be dramatic at times, but Park does not depict Ana and Maura in a grandiose way. There is an underlying emotional tone and poignance just beneath the surface that made my throat catch at times. Subtle but masterful. I would offer The Caregiver is not just a story unique to mothers and daughters, but it is also about humans looking for love and connection as a way of obtaining a steadfast anchor. Related to that, it’s also about belonging and how that can in turn anchor, especially as it pertains to the immigrant experience.The Caregiver is the first novel I have read by Samuel Park, and it turns out this book was published posthumously after he passed away from stomach cancer. Mr. Park had Mara care for someone dying of the same cancer he had. I have to wonder what it was like for him to write about that with it so close to home. What a gift is this author’s work. Thank you to Simon Schuster for the ARC. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !! “You taught me precious secrets of the truth, withholdin' nothin'You came out in front and I was hidingBut now I'm so much better so if my words don't come togetherListen to the melody 'cause my love's in there hiding“But I love you in a place where there's no space or timeI've loved you for my life, yes, you're a friend of mineAnd when my life is over, remember when we were togetherWe were alone and I was singin' my song for you, yesWe were alone and I was singin' this song !! NOW AVAILABLE !! “You taught me precious secrets of the truth, withholdin' nothin'You came out in front and I was hidingBut now I'm so much better so if my words don't come togetherListen to the melody 'cause my love's in there hiding“But I love you in a place where there's no space or timeI've loved you for my life, yes, you're a friend of mineAnd when my life is over, remember when we were togetherWe were alone and I was singin' my song for you, yesWe were alone and I was singin' this song for you, babyWe were alone and I was singin' my songSingin' this song for you” -- A Song For You, Leon Russell, Songwriters: Leon RussellThis story begins with the prelude in Bel Air, California in the early 1990s with Mara Alencar, who is at that time 26 years old, and an undocumented home caregiver for a woman, Mrs. Kathryn Weatherly, divorced, is in her early forties, and has been diagnosed with stomach cancer.The story then leaves the 1990s and California and takes a step back in time, and place, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the mid-to-late 1970s. Mara is, at this point, eight years old, and she and her mother Ana are living in Copacabana, when a song in America, Copacabana sends American tourists there in droves. Ana does voice-overs for actresses, dubbing over their English to Portuguese, and is attractive enough that men turn and stare as she walks by, a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by Mara. Mara has never known her father, and Ana doesn’t want to discuss him with her, he’s the past and together they are the future. Money is tight and, after much convincing, she’s persuaded to take a job she’d prefer to decline. The problem is, this job involves the student guerillas, revolutionaries, and the police. Back in 1990s Bel Air, Mara struggles in caring for Kathryn, her fear of reliving those days before she came to America, and as these days of giving care to Kathryn go on, the roles begin to blur more, while Kathryn speaks of leaving her house to Mara, and speaking of her to others as her daughter. Kathryn speaks more frequently of her fears of dying, words that haunt Mara, and she finds herself revisiting old memories of the days caring for her mother.Beautifully written, this is Park’s final novel, a poignant story of life with all its struggles, of love in all its variations, the push and pull of maternal love, the confidential and clandestine nature of romantic love, a moving contemplation of the end of our days and of those with whom we share our love. Shortly after he finished writing this novel, Park’s own battle with stomach cancer came to an end, leaving us with this, a final gift. Pub Date: 25 SEP 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by Simon & Schuster
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. The first thing I have to say is that I am deeply saddened by the death of this author. I had no idea he passed away last year from stomach cancer. This was a good one. Can't believe it was the last one I read by Samuel Park. A true loss to us readers.
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  • RoseMary Achey
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written The Caregiver explores the caregiving relationship between a mother and daughter during the tumultuous times in 1980's Rio de Janeiro. Two decades later the daughter is living in California working as a caregiver for a woman suffering from cancer. Unfortunately this is the last novel we will have the pleasure of reading from Samuel Park as he passed away after shortly after finishing this book. Park was a talented writer-although the book is a short 288 pages there are mutil Beautifully written The Caregiver explores the caregiving relationship between a mother and daughter during the tumultuous times in 1980's Rio de Janeiro. Two decades later the daughter is living in California working as a caregiver for a woman suffering from cancer. Unfortunately this is the last novel we will have the pleasure of reading from Samuel Park as he passed away after shortly after finishing this book. Park was a talented writer-although the book is a short 288 pages there are mutilple well developed characters and a range of events and emotions.Coming in September 2018 from Simon & Schuster.
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  • Marjorie
    January 1, 1970
    Ana and her little girl, Mara, take care of each other in their home in Copacabana, Brazil. Ana works as a voice-over actress but her job brings in little money. In desperation, she agrees to take a job posing as a citizen with information about student guerillas in an attempt to lure the violent Police Chief Lima from his post. Ana then makes a decision that tears their lives apart.Years later when Mara comes to America undocumented, she takes a job as a caregiver to a woman, Kathryn, who is su Ana and her little girl, Mara, take care of each other in their home in Copacabana, Brazil. Ana works as a voice-over actress but her job brings in little money. In desperation, she agrees to take a job posing as a citizen with information about student guerillas in an attempt to lure the violent Police Chief Lima from his post. Ana then makes a decision that tears their lives apart.Years later when Mara comes to America undocumented, she takes a job as a caregiver to a woman, Kathryn, who is suffering from stomach cancer. Caring for Kathryn brings up memories of Mara’s mother and Mara struggles to come to terms with her past. This is a beautifully written book about the relationship between a mother and daughter and what lengths a mother would be willing to go for her daughter. The characters are very well developed and the book is full of heart and compassion. The author, Samuel Parks, passed away from stomach cancer shortly after writing this book. At the end of the book, his essay that was published in the New York Times is shared. It’s called “I Had a 9 Percent Chance, Plus Hope” and it’s a must read for all. After reading this book, I’m even more anxious to read “This Burns My Heart”.Recommended.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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  • Donna Davis
    January 1, 1970
    The Caregiver is one of the year’s best surprises. I read this book free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster. Our protagonist is Mara Alencar, and our setting is split between present day Los Angeles, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the 1980s. I am drawn to the story initially because of the setting, which I don’t see often; but it is Mara that keeps me turning the pages. Those that treasure excellent, character-based literary fiction should get this book and read it. Mara is ju The Caregiver is one of the year’s best surprises. I read this book free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster. Our protagonist is Mara Alencar, and our setting is split between present day Los Angeles, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the 1980s. I am drawn to the story initially because of the setting, which I don’t see often; but it is Mara that keeps me turning the pages. Those that treasure excellent, character-based literary fiction should get this book and read it. Mara is just a kid, and all she really wants is food, shelter, and the comfort and companionship of her mother, Ana. Ana is a young single mother that works as a voice-over actress, repeating the lines of English-language programs in Portuguese. The pay is low, and Ana’s self-discipline is negligible. Life is a constant struggle. One evening Ana is visited by a group of students that claim they plan to rob a bank in order to fund a revolution. Ana’s job is to distract Chief Lima so that a comrade can be liberated from prison. The comrade will play an important part in the revolution; as for Ana, she will be paid handsomely, and then she will be free to go if she likes. Mara doesn’t like these rough people and their threatening demeanor, but Ana hears the amount they will pay, and once she receives an advance, she’s in. Everything is seen through Mara’s eyes, both in childhood as these events unfold, and later, looking back during her years working as a caregiver to a manipulative older woman that shares some of Ana’s characteristics. As a child, Mara is often afraid or confused, or both. Her mother reminds her often that she is all that matters, and that the two of them will always be together; in the next moment, she will do something so blindingly selfish, so completely inappropriate that I want to yank the woman into the kitchen and remind her that she has a child and responsibilities. She will tell Mara, not for the first time, that she could never stand to lie to her because they are so close, and she loves her so much; but we turn the page and sure enough, she lies to her child, or she is gone for days on end with no warning or explanation. There are occasions when she seems to lie unnecessarily, and I want to throw my tablet at the wall, I am so frustrated.The ending is a complete surprise, and it makes perfect sense within the chaotic context of the time and place. The most admirable aspect of this story is the consistency of the narrator. A writer that can tell a story from a child’s point of view without mixing up the developmental level that affects a child’s perceptions, vocabulary level, and capacity to analyze what she sees is hard to find. A male writer that can do this, and that can also consistently write a woman’s story in the first person without giving himself away is a unicorn. Samuel Park convinces me that I am listening to a woman tell her story, and repeatedly I am pulled under, only to be reminded when I go to make notes at the end of my writing session that this is a male novelist. This doesn’t happen. I am gob-smacked at his level of perception and originality. I never met Park, but I grieve for him anyway as a reader. Please come back, Mr. Park. One book is not enough; forty-one is too young. Highly recommended.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy!This little novel is made up of so many sparkling parts. My favorite was Mara as an 8 year old, living with her beloved mother in a neighborhood of Rio de Janiero. Short on money and desperate to provide for Mara, her mother gets swept up in a student rebel group's scheme to take down a corrupt police chief. Park writes with such amazing warmth and spirit - the sections of her childhood in Brazil just dazzled.Intermittently, the narrative jump Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy!This little novel is made up of so many sparkling parts. My favorite was Mara as an 8 year old, living with her beloved mother in a neighborhood of Rio de Janiero. Short on money and desperate to provide for Mara, her mother gets swept up in a student rebel group's scheme to take down a corrupt police chief. Park writes with such amazing warmth and spirit - the sections of her childhood in Brazil just dazzled.Intermittently, the narrative jumps to present day California, where Mara is a caregiver to a wealthy woman dying of stomach cancer. While these passages weren't as compelling, they were still so readable and built on the early years of Mara's life. Secrets emerging from the past start to change the telling of her own history.I loved so much about this story - the emotion, the blending of past and present, the dangerous childhood perceptions that play out over a lifetime. But I just wish all of these loose ends could have been brought together! The two story lines ended up too disjointed for me, like there was potential for more sparks that never made it onto the page.
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my bloghttps://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'In America, there were no metaphors. If a woman trusted her partner she didn’t say that she would set her hand on fire. When a woman had all the power, she didn’t say she had a knife and a piece of cheese in her hands. When she didn’t like an offer, she didn’t tell it to go back to the sea.'It isn’t lost on me that I read this novel while going through my own health scare, mine is intestinal. Books find us when we need them, without a doubt. It d via my bloghttps://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'In America, there were no metaphors. If a woman trusted her partner she didn’t say that she would set her hand on fire. When a woman had all the power, she didn’t say she had a knife and a piece of cheese in her hands. When she didn’t like an offer, she didn’t tell it to go back to the sea.'It isn’t lost on me that I read this novel while going through my own health scare, mine is intestinal. Books find us when we need them, without a doubt. It deeply saddens me to learn the author passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 41, more so after reading at the end of the book what he wrote in 2017 for the New York Times Sunday Review. “I had a 9 Percent Chance, Plus Hope.” It’s beautiful and heartbreaking.Samuel Park surprises me with how perfectly he could write from the perspective of female characters. Getting into the female mind is no easy feat my friends. Mara Alencar adores her mother beyond life itself, Ana is her gravity and is willing to do anything to put food in her daughter’s belly and a roof over their heads. Life is hard, but she never shows the exhaustion and sadness her single mother status puts on her shoulders. Working as a voice-over actress, a beauty herself, it’s not nearly enough to keep them afloat and this is just one of the many reasons Ana finds herself entangled in a dangerous scheme. With bravery, or stupidity, she becomes involved with young rebels out to take down the corrupt Police Chief, holding captive their friends in Rio De Janeiro. No one is a better actress than Ana, a talent that they sorely need to distract the Chief. Chaos ensues when their plan takes a dangerous turn, and nothing will be the same for Ana and Mara. The child sees more than her young mind can process.Mara doesn’t know who her father is, but has always lived a happy life in the light of her mother’s love. Lately, her mother has changed and paranoia overtakes her, the threat of the Police Chief a shadow over their future. As Mara comes of age, she becomes as impulsive as her mother, and it is in her forceful nature that she falls in love for the first time. The boy of her chosing a dangerous pick. Mara acts out in desperation to save her mother, and through terrible loss learns that what she thought she knew about her mother may all have been lies.Mara escapes to America and works as a caregiver in Bel Air for Kathyrn, a woman dying of stomach cancer. Living as an immigrant who works for a wealthy woman is an eye-opening experience, considering her apartment is a shared one in the ‘not-so-nice part of Hollywood.” Ten years after first moving to America, Mara still finds herself surprised by her new country. The vast wealth, in comparison to Brazil, never fails to amaze her where even those who are poor, ‘look expensive’. There is a certain charm in all the little things Mara notices that we Americans take for granted.It’s at heart both an immigrant experience and a tender, moving story about a mother who just wants to give her child a good life and prospects for a better future. It is how the country we inhabit shapes our destiny, for better or worse. Yes read it, and don’t pass over “I Had a 9 Percent Chance , Plus Hope” at the end. The world is heavier with the loss of Samuel Park.Publication Date: September 25, 2018Simon & Schuster
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  • Susie | Novel Visits
    January 1, 1970
    My Thoughts: In The Caregiver we meet Mara at three critical points in her life. At 8 she’s living under the spell of her impetuous mother as they try to survive the violence and corruption that marked Brazil in the late 1970’s. At 16, Mara tries to both protect and care for her mother who suffers from heart disease and a past that haunts her. When the reader first meets Mara, she’s 26, living in Los Angeles, and caregiver to a woman dying of stomach cancer. As Mara cares for this woman her thou My Thoughts: In The Caregiver we meet Mara at three critical points in her life. At 8 she’s living under the spell of her impetuous mother as they try to survive the violence and corruption that marked Brazil in the late 1970’s. At 16, Mara tries to both protect and care for her mother who suffers from heart disease and a past that haunts her. When the reader first meets Mara, she’s 26, living in Los Angeles, and caregiver to a woman dying of stomach cancer. As Mara cares for this woman her thoughts are drawn to Brazil, the life she led with her mother, and most of all the heartbreak that brought Mara to the United States. I found each part of Mara’s story mildly interesting, but not compelling. I appreciated learning more about life in Brazil in the 70’s and 80’s, and enjoyed Mara’s beliefs in the goodness of Americans, but even skimming I was able to predict where most of this story was going. Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Simon & Schuster, in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!Original Source: https://novelvisits.com/transcription...
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  • Whit
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to @simonandschuster for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I read this book so fast I’m not sure what to even write for a review. I guess I’ll start with some background. The author, Samuel Park, passed away from stomach cancer not long after finishing. Which made the book that much more touching. The story is narrated by a young lady named Mara from the time she was 8 years old until she’s 26. We are also introduced to her mother, Ana, who is a voice-over actr Thank you to @simonandschuster for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I read this book so fast I’m not sure what to even write for a review. I guess I’ll start with some background. The author, Samuel Park, passed away from stomach cancer not long after finishing. Which made the book that much more touching. The story is narrated by a young lady named Mara from the time she was 8 years old until she’s 26. We are also introduced to her mother, Ana, who is a voice-over actress that’s forced to work odd jobs to make ends meet. She ends up becoming entangled with a Brazilian anti-government group to make more money and is immediately thrown into a plot that changes their lives forever. .One thing that I loved about this story was how similar the events in Brazil were to the United States’ revolutionary period of the 60s and 70s. They had their own Assata Shakur, Huey Newton and even Angela Davis. The plot in this book reminded me of the prison hostage incident involving George Jackson, one of the Soledad Brothers. From that alone, I could not put this book down. I love books that grab my attention early on and this one did just that It saddens me to think that Mr. Park is no longer with us. His writing is amazing and I’m thrilled to find out that there are earlier works by him that I can pick up. His life served a purpose and his writing will live on forever.Reliving a past life and learning from the present, this book will tug at your spirit in more ways than one. It’s the perfect weekend read. .5/5 ⭐️s
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  • Anneke
    January 1, 1970
    Book Review: The CaregiverAuthor: Samuel ParkPublisher: Simon & SchusterPublication Date: September 25, 2018Review Date: July 9, 2018I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I also was invited to read and review this book by someone from Simon & Schuster. This was a very special book because Mr. Park died of stomach cancer shortly after finishing this book. While one of the characters of the book was battling stomach cancer. This book is the lo Book Review: The CaregiverAuthor: Samuel ParkPublisher: Simon & SchusterPublication Date: September 25, 2018Review Date: July 9, 2018I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I also was invited to read and review this book by someone from Simon & Schuster. This was a very special book because Mr. Park died of stomach cancer shortly after finishing this book. While one of the characters of the book was battling stomach cancer. This book is the love story between a young girl and her mother. In the first segment, Mara, the daughter and her mother Ana, live in Brazil, in Rio, in Copacabana. When Mara is 16, she moves to LA, and that part of the story begins when she is 26, and working as a caregiver to a woman who is sick with stomach cancer. I don’t wish to give away too much of the plot. It is a heart wrenching book, as well as filled with much love. I find it difficult when there are two protagonists, two place and times, as there are in this book. I think it’s hard to manage as the author. Mr. Park pulled the transitions off seamlessly. They were smooth and made sense. The characters were well and finely drawn. Mara, Ana and the other characters are full-blown people that I grew to care about. The plot was first class. Complex, yet not complicated. Wonderful pace. Another book I could just not put down. This book was a mixture of things: a look at the love between mother and daughter; a look at the politics in Brazil in the tumultuous 1980’s. Current day life in America, and to be more precise, in Los Angeles. Much of the language and imagery was absolutely stunning. It was so saddening to realise that this was the last book from such a great author as Samuel Park. I highly, highly recommend this book and hope you will read it. Thank you to Simon & Schuster for inviting me to read this paean to love. I will post this review on NetGalley, Goodreads, Facebook, and Instagram. I will also review on Amazon after publication date, as they don’t allow reviews to be posted prior to publication date.
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  • Elena Mileva
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! What a well written book. It was so vividly written and with such detail. It had so much emotion in it and dealt with complex situations between people. It made me sad, happy and angry at times. So sad that the author has passed away and there won’t be another book by him.
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  • Chris Roberts
    January 1, 1970
    Walk away, emotional sanity at stake, now is living the past, stars sink your spirit, unsmiling in the lonesome firmament, sadness your smile on earth too, believe, believe love comes. Christopher Roberts, God Sideways
  • Rachael Peretic
    January 1, 1970
    In Samuel Park’s “The Caregiver”, Mara tends to her charge Katherine, a woman who, at forty-four, is reluctantly facing death at the hands of stomach cancer. Over Katherine’s decline, Mara has taken on the illusionary role of daughter, filling a gap for Katherine that seems permanent, given her diagnosis and lingering divorce from her ex-husband, Nelson. If only she had known just how few chances life gives, she would have made it work before it was too late. It is often implied that Katherine c In Samuel Park’s “The Caregiver”, Mara tends to her charge Katherine, a woman who, at forty-four, is reluctantly facing death at the hands of stomach cancer. Over Katherine’s decline, Mara has taken on the illusionary role of daughter, filling a gap for Katherine that seems permanent, given her diagnosis and lingering divorce from her ex-husband, Nelson. If only she had known just how few chances life gives, she would have made it work before it was too late. It is often implied that Katherine considers leaving her striking yet empty Bel Air home to Mara; who else does she have? For Mara, an undocumented immigrant with little money, it’s a dream just impossible enough to hope for.Katherine knows little of Mara’s real mother, and nothing of the pair’s hidden past: a past Mara has seemingly left behind. Their story is revealed at length against the poverty of 1970’s Copacabana, Brazil, where Mara’s mother Anna works as a talented but poorly paid voice actress dubbing glamourous American films into Portuguese. We see Anna through the eager and adoring eyes of young Mara; a loving and all-powerful woman, stylishly smoking cigarettes with the world at her fingertips. The reality is that she is desperate and hungry. Her motherly duties lead her to a role far beyond her control when she agrees to a job collaborating with revolutionary militants against the tortuous, corrupt, and truly all-powerful chief of police, Lima. The tragedy that follows is irrevocable, and apparently inescapable for Mara, who ten years later is still unravelling the secrets of the arrangement; who exactly had made a deal with whom? How much responsibility resided with her mother? with Lima? with herself? And why, given her role as Katherine’s caregiver, was she sharing so many of these confidences with Nelson?In his final novel, Samuel Park tours the bifold nature of love, its inherent secrets, and the poignant baggage so often carried to death’s doorstep. It does so with an ornate prose that leaves one transported; from a sick bed in 1990’s Bel Air to the gritty banks of a bygone Brazil, to the warm hollow of a mother’s lap. It is hard to know who is influencing whom in this veritable magnum opus left to us by Park. Even more powerful than the mystery are the emotive undercurrents which will hit you within the close of the first chapter. This is a mother-daughter duo fit to rival that seen in Janet Finch’s “White Oleander”, minus the maliceEach section of the book is more compelling than the other, almost making you forget that there are in fact two halves of the story unfolding. In fact, one of my only disappointments with the novel was having to give up Mara’s childhood in Brazil to go back to her adulthood in LA. Her past could have stood alone and, at times, I almost wish it had. That, however, would have robbed us of Katherine’s raw valiancy and acceptance in the face of death (an aspect of the book which I loved). For me, “The Caregiver” was everything a book is meant to be; an enlightening escape. Perhaps the compelling elements which comprised it, the palpable wisdoms of Katherine and the love manifested between Mara and Anna, stemmed from the fact that the subject matter was known all too-intimately by Park: a man born in Brazil, raised in LA, and who, after his own long struggle with stomach cancer, recently passed away. To say that his was wonderful writing would be to understate an inestimable truth. Through “The Caregiver”, Samuel Park has left us with a gift.
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    My review for the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifesty...“The death of the author” is a concept put forth in a 1967 essay by Roland Barthes in which he argues that approaching a work with the author’s intentions or biography in mind is not the best way to understand its meaning. Better, he says, to act as though the author is dead, thereby separating the creator from the text and treating the creation on its own terms.Whether or not a reader agrees with that method, one must ac My review for the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifesty...“The death of the author” is a concept put forth in a 1967 essay by Roland Barthes in which he argues that approaching a work with the author’s intentions or biography in mind is not the best way to understand its meaning. Better, he says, to act as though the author is dead, thereby separating the creator from the text and treating the creation on its own terms.Whether or not a reader agrees with that method, one must acknowledge that sometimes—all times, eventually, depending on how long ago a book was published—the author is literally and not just metaphorically dead. Moreover, sometimes the intersection of the creator’s life and the material in his creation is actually one of the most illuminating ways to consider a book. Such is arguably the case with the late Samuel Park, whose second and final novel, The Caregiver, has just been published posthumously. The book—though an absorbing and well-crafted work of fiction capable of standing on its own, without the support of biography—is almost impossible to consider independently of the knowledge of where its author’s life overlaps with his art. Born in Brazil and raised in Los Angeles, Park was an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Columbia College in Chicago, and was the author of the 2006 novella, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and the 2012 novel This Burns My Heart. Diagnosed with late-stage stomach cancer in 2014, Park completed The Caregiver just before dying of the disease in 2017 at the age of 41. Set in both Brazil and in Southern California, The Caregiver tells the story of a struggling single mother, Ana—who works as a voice-over actress in Rio de Janeiro—and her devoted daughter, Mara—who is forced to flee the country to escape the fallout from Ana’s involvement in a complicated plot against one of Rio’s corrupt and brutal police chiefs, a man who supposedly “will torture even a pregnant woman, and treat it like it’s all in a day’s work” (94). Mara, having escaped potential retaliation for her mother’s rebellion, arrives undocumented in Los Angeles and finds work as a caregiver; her primary patient is a wealthy young divorcée named Kathryn who is undergoing treatment for stomach cancer.“People think that when you’re sick, you want pity,” Kathryn tells Mara. “But it’s not pity, it’s love. It’s the only thing that make it more bearable” (220). The story that Park tells here, fittingly, is free of pity, but full of compassion. And while it is not essential that a reader know that Park’s own background involves both distinct settings and that he himself met an early end from the same disease that he gives to one of his main characters, that knowledge undeniably adds an extra layer of interest and pathos to an already moving novel. The patterns of care-taking he establishes between Ana and Mara feel intense and authentic, as does the isolation that their private dyad creates, which causes Mara, at age eight, to observe of her mother, “She was a river, and I was just the boat careening from side to side” (97).Less convincing are some of the splashy, soap operatic plot twists that Park puts in as the book goes on—convenient coincidences, an expedient fainting spell—which sacrifice characterization and plausibility in favor of utilitarian occasions for secrets to be revealed. In fairness, these decisions do keep the pages turning, but at times they feel rushed and make the reader long for more quiet moments, as when Nelson, Kathryn’s ex-husband, tells Mara, of her mother, “don’t make a god out of her. It’s hard to forgive God, but you can forgive a person” (233). Park published a clear-eyed yet heartbreaking essay about his impending death called “I Had a 9 Percent Chance. Plus Hope” in the New York Times in January 2017, and his publisher has included the piece at the end of this novel. In it, Park writes that “Cancer is a promissory note, and the spaces for ‘when’ and even ‘if,’ for those in earlier stages are left blank” (272). In a sense, the novel reminds us, cancer or no cancer, everyone’s blanks get filled in sooner or later, and all anyone can do is try to come to terms with that fact. In reply to one of Mara’s periodic reassurances that she’ll be fine, Kathryn replies, “No, I won’t. But the ultimate goal is not to convince myself that nothing bad’s going to happen. The goal is to know something bad will happen, but still be okay with it” (235). Park’s book leaves readers with a chance to think seriously and directly about some of the worst things that can happen, a chance that feels even more rare and grave now that the author is permanently gone.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    I was heartbroken to read that the author, Samuel Park, died of stomach cancer at age 41, shortly after finishing this novel. The piece orginally published in the New York Times' Sunday Review, 1/14/2017, MUST BE READ; it follows the epilogue.The setting. Mara Alencar, comes to Bel Air, California, from Brazil. She is a 26-year-old caregiver for Kathryn Weatherly, early 40s, divorced, childless, and diagnosed with/dying of stomach cancer. [hmmm]The back story. Mid-to late 1970s. Brazil. Mara is I was heartbroken to read that the author, Samuel Park, died of stomach cancer at age 41, shortly after finishing this novel. The piece orginally published in the New York Times' Sunday Review, 1/14/2017, MUST BE READ; it follows the epilogue.The setting. Mara Alencar, comes to Bel Air, California, from Brazil. She is a 26-year-old caregiver for Kathryn Weatherly, early 40s, divorced, childless, and diagnosed with/dying of stomach cancer. [hmmm]The back story. Mid-to late 1970s. Brazil. Mara is eight. Her mother, Ana, is a struggling voiceover actress. Ana "...becomes involved with a civilian rebel group attempting to undermine the city's torturous Police Chief [Lima], who rules over 1980s Rio de Janeiro with terrifying brutality." The story of Ana's life, the political climate in Rio, the characters--both in Rio--especially Janete, a travesti [transvestite] are all very interesting. But most important is the story/relationship of Mara and Ana. And what Ana did and the slow reveal.And in the US, the story of Mara and Kathryn, Kathryn's ex, Nelson, and Mara's roomates--Bruno--a hoot, and Renata. First and foremost, the beautifully descriptive language. Seeing the US through the eyes of an immigrant. The many cultural differences--both simple phrases and observations from Mara--and what it was like to live in America after her situation in Brazil. Consider:supermarkets--"So much choice so many different ways to fill yourself up.... Going to the supermarket was free; there was no admission price. Nobody questioned my right to be there. It was the most democratic institution in the city.""In America, I was constantly asked questions that weren't really questions. "How are you?"""The night was a vinyl record, dark and full of scratches, in perfect sync with the needle of God.""My mother's body was the barometer that allowed me to measure the amount of joy or pleasure to be had, or in this instance, fear.""...metal noodles of chains and locks...""...mad clock sat lodged in ther chest..." [heart disease]""...woman standing haloed by the sun behind her."describing ants: "Their black uniforms stood out against the bright whiteness of the ceramic...chased their own behinds... so selfless and cooperative, foraging for the collectivety... little creatures, small but ambitious..."And much more.I was reeled in instantly at the beginning. Then I felt peaks and valleys. Nonethess, an admirable book. I learned much about the political situation in Brazil in the 1980s. And I thought Park nailed the female voice.Read.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was heartbroken to read that the author, Samuel Park, died of stomach cancer at age 41, shortly after finishing this novel. The piece orginally published in the New York Times' Sunday Review, 1/14/2017, MUST BE READ; it follows the epilogue.The setting, Mara Alencar, comes to Bel Air, California, from Brazil. She is a 26-year-old caregiver for Kathryn Weatherly, early 40s, divorced, childless, and diagnosed with/dying of sto I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was heartbroken to read that the author, Samuel Park, died of stomach cancer at age 41, shortly after finishing this novel. The piece orginally published in the New York Times' Sunday Review, 1/14/2017, MUST BE READ; it follows the epilogue.The setting, Mara Alencar, comes to Bel Air, California, from Brazil. She is a 26-year-old caregiver for Kathryn Weatherly, early 40s, divorced, childless, and diagnosed with/dying of stomach cancer. [hmmm]The back story. Mid-to late 1970s. Brazil. Mara is eight. Her mother, Ana, is a struggling voiceover actress. Ana "...becomes involved with a civilian rebel group attempting to undermine the city's torturous Police Chief [Lima], who rules over 1980s Rio de Janeiro with terrifying brutality." The story of Ana's life, the political climate in Rio, the characters--both in Rio--especially Janete, a travesti [transvestite]. But most importantly the story/relationship of Mara and Ana. And what Ana did and the slow reveal.And in the US, the story of Mara and Kathryn, Kathryn's ex, Nelson, and Mara's roomates--Bruno--a hoot, and Renata. First and foremost, the beautifully descriptive language. Seeing the US through the eyes of an immigrant. The many cultural differences--both simple phrases and observations from Mara--and what it was like to live in America after her situation in Brazil. Consider:supermarkets--"So much choice so many different ways to fill yourself up.... Going to the supermarket was free; there was no admission price. Nobody questioned my right to be there. It was the most democratic institution in the city.""In America, I was constantly asked questions that weren't really questions. "How are you?"""The night was a vinyl record, dark and full of scratches, in perfect sync with the needle of God.""My mother's body was the barometer that allowed me to measure the amount of joy or pleasure to be had, or in this instance, fear.""...metal noodles of chains and locks...""...mad clock sat lodged in ther chest..." [heart disease]""...woman standing haloed by the sun behind her."describing ants: "Their black uniforms stood out against the bright whiteness of the ceramic...chased their own behinds... so selfless and cooperative, foraging for the collectivety... little creatures, small but ambitious..."And much more.I was reeled in instantly at the beginning. Then I felt peaks and valleys. Nonethess, an admirable book. I learned much about the political situation in Brazil in the 1980s. And I thought Park nailed the female voice.Read.
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  • Dree
    January 1, 1970
    Samuel Park died of stomach cancer after finishing this book (and battling the cancer twice). And yes, one of the characters in this book has stomach cancer, and is young for it, just as he was. She is not the main character, however. Her caregiver is. Mara is from Brazil (as Park was, originally, though he grew up in LA). Mara left Brazil sometime after her mother's death, and caring for Kathryn has caused her to think more about her mother's life. She raised Mara alone in Copacabana, when Braz Samuel Park died of stomach cancer after finishing this book (and battling the cancer twice). And yes, one of the characters in this book has stomach cancer, and is young for it, just as he was. She is not the main character, however. Her caregiver is. Mara is from Brazil (as Park was, originally, though he grew up in LA). Mara left Brazil sometime after her mother's death, and caring for Kathryn has caused her to think more about her mother's life. She raised Mara alone in Copacabana, when Brazil was undergoing high inflation and political turmoil. She got involved with the rebels while trying earn extra money to pay the rent. She was not with the rebels or against the rebels, she was for herself and her daughter. After she became ill when Mara was a teen, Mara tried to learn more. Is what her mother told her the truth? As a caregiving adult, Mara can better understand the choices her mother made (and the choices she even had) when she had an 8-year-old to care for.———How I wish Park were able to discuss this book (in interview or in print). I have so many questions. Did he get to finish it to his own satisfaction? How much of Mara's childhood experiences in Brazil were his own or his family's? Did he himself have a caregiver other than close family? ———There is an essay included in the back, by Park for the NY Times. It is heartbreaking.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful writing and a unique plot made this a wonderful read. Told in dual time line and location, it is the story of Mara, a young woman who finds herself working as a caregiver in Los Angeles for a woman dying of stomach cancer after she flees Brazil. Don't worry= this is not a medical book and there are few details of the cancer. At its root, this is about a woman who understands one thing about her mother and then finds something else and because of that, it's quite sad. I suspect I'm not Beautiful writing and a unique plot made this a wonderful read. Told in dual time line and location, it is the story of Mara, a young woman who finds herself working as a caregiver in Los Angeles for a woman dying of stomach cancer after she flees Brazil. Don't worry= this is not a medical book and there are few details of the cancer. At its root, this is about a woman who understands one thing about her mother and then finds something else and because of that, it's quite sad. I suspect I'm not the only one who was unfamiliar with the politics of repression in Brazil in the 1980s so this was also educational for me. I had to admire Ana, the mom, for her determination to provide for her daughter, although revelations late in the book will give you pause. There are great lesser characters- I liked Janete in particular. My only quibble was with the epilogue, which felt forced but did not affect my admiration for the rest of the novel. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. This deserves the plaudits it has received.
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  • SheLovesThePages
    January 1, 1970
    This book was given to me by Netgalley and Simon & Schuster publishing.Mara, born in Brazil, is a caregiver in California. The story goes back and forth from present day to Mara’s life and what brought her to Brazil and then to becoming a caregiver. This book has the ability to open so many eyes as to why people leave their home country and live in the United States without documentation. Samuel Park is a brilliant writer. His legacy will be this book.I recommend reading this.
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  • Melissa Dee
    January 1, 1970
    I was immediately drawn in to Ana and Maya’s world, living on the edge of poverty in Rio de Janeiro. Told from the perspective of the daughter, at different times and places in her life, the story deals with how we care for others, as mothers, daughters, lovers and friends. Park acknowledges the complications of all of those relationships, and weaves a bright thread through their commonalities. This is a lovely book, and tragically, the last written by Park.In an epilogue, Park talks about the c I was immediately drawn in to Ana and Maya’s world, living on the edge of poverty in Rio de Janeiro. Told from the perspective of the daughter, at different times and places in her life, the story deals with how we care for others, as mothers, daughters, lovers and friends. Park acknowledges the complications of all of those relationships, and weaves a bright thread through their commonalities. This is a lovely book, and tragically, the last written by Park.In an epilogue, Park talks about the cancer that took his life. I hope that writing this book gave him some peace.
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  • Emily W.
    January 1, 1970
    ** I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****And because it's an ARC my feedback could be different from the final publication feedback**Thank you Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for letting me review this book!! Before Thoughts:Books with diversity are a great thing. And I think what drew me in with the premise was that you have a character who is a voice actress which I respect voice actors very much so, and I hope that based on the premise that I will like Ana's ch ** I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****And because it's an ARC my feedback could be different from the final publication feedback**Thank you Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for letting me review this book!! Before Thoughts:Books with diversity are a great thing. And I think what drew me in with the premise was that you have a character who is a voice actress which I respect voice actors very much so, and I hope that based on the premise that I will like Ana's character. And big praise to the single moms out there that would do anything to help care for their kiddos. Because I have respect for you people. People like my mom who had to raise me and my siblings mostly on her own. And with that said I hope Ana won't disappoint as a motherly figure in this story. And I hope to see how Mara's character will grow throughout the story. Let's see how California and caring for the life of another will molt her as a character. **Also let us have a moment of silence because the author who wrote this book passed before he ever got to see the final moments of this book's fruition.**Review:Read on: _/_/18To be Published on: 09/25/18Plot:Character(s):Recommends to:Final Thoughts:Hope you enjoyed my review!! Thanks for reading!! ^_^And go catch that good book!! ^_^Blog site
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  • Mollie Racioppa
    January 1, 1970
    For a more in-depth review of The Caregiver, check out my blog: https://thenextpage950344705.wordpres...To begin, big thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Caregiver. Another thank you to the author, Samuel Park, and Simon and Schuster Publishing for allowing me to read this uncorrected ARC before its final publication.The Caregiver follows the life story of a girl named Mara Alencar. The story begins with 26 year old Mara living in California in the early 1990’s working as For a more in-depth review of The Caregiver, check out my blog: https://thenextpage950344705.wordpres...To begin, big thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Caregiver. Another thank you to the author, Samuel Park, and Simon and Schuster Publishing for allowing me to read this uncorrected ARC before its final publication.The Caregiver follows the life story of a girl named Mara Alencar. The story begins with 26 year old Mara living in California in the early 1990’s working as a caregiver for a woman named Katherine dealing with stomach cancer. The story switches from present to past starting with Mara’s life in California as a caregiver. The past shows eight year old Mara living in Rio de Janeiro in the mid to late 70’s with her mother, Ana. Ana is a single mother with no connection to Mara’s father. The title of this story not only represents Mara being a caregiver to Katherine, but also represents the way Mara and Ana had to take turns being a caregiver for eachother. It is in California that Mara begins to learn the truth about her past, her mother and herself. It is the discovery of her past that shows Mara what it truly means to be a caregiver.Overall, this was a good book. It was definitely unlike the books I typically read, but I really did enjoy branching out and reading something I wouldn’t typically pick up off the shelf. It was interesting, easy to read and showed me that everyone, regardless of their situation, deserves to be cared for.
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  • miss.mesmerized mesmerized
    January 1, 1970
    In the 1990s, Mara Alcenar is living in California and working as a caregiver for a woman who suffers from cancer. She has been in the US for many years, illegally like so many others and always struggling to survive and hoping not to be caught. Yet, going back to Brazil is not an option; it is just her thoughts that frequently return to her native country. She remembers the time when she was six and living with her mother Ana who worked in the film industry and dubbed foreign productions. She w In the 1990s, Mara Alcenar is living in California and working as a caregiver for a woman who suffers from cancer. She has been in the US for many years, illegally like so many others and always struggling to survive and hoping not to be caught. Yet, going back to Brazil is not an option; it is just her thoughts that frequently return to her native country. She remembers the time when she was six and living with her mother Ana who worked in the film industry and dubbed foreign productions. She was also a great actor which lead her to a fatal decision: being offered a “role” by leftist rebels, Ana Alcenar couldn’t refuse. She needed the money for herself and Mara. But then, something went completely wrong at the Police Chief’s office. Years later, Mara is a teenager and gets the chance to revenge her mother – but is the episode as she remembers is actually the truth?Samuel Park’s novel “The caregiver” focuses on two completely different aspects: on the one hand, he addresses political questions such as the military rulers of South America in the 20th century and the precarious situation of immigrants from these countries in the US. On the other hand, he has a very personal topic that the novel makes you think about: what do loving and caring mean and how far would you go for the ones you love?For me, the parts of the novel that are set in Rio de Janeiro were the most impressive. The author really gives you a good idea of how life was like under those political circumstances and how important your personal bonds were to survive. The neighbour becomes crucial for survival, you find yourself quickly caught between the lines and even if you want to keep away from politics, this isn’t always possible. And there is not just black and white, but many shades of grey.The question of what loving somebody means is also crucial in the novel. Not the love between lovers, but much more the compassion you feel towards family members and those close to you, how much you are willing to endure and even more importantly: how much you are willing to forgive and to forget. A novel full of food for thought and at the same time wonderfully written.
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  • Kyle Anne Uniss
    January 1, 1970
    The Caregiver pulled me in with perfect prose, telling me the story of Ana and Mara, a mother and daughter living through totalitarian times in Brazil in the 70's and 80's. It's the story of revolutionaries, and what a mother will do so she and her daughter can survive, and how a daughter looks back on her mother and the choices she made. In telling this story, Park reminds all daughters that their mothers are human, warning us that life is fragile and there isn't always time to make peace. Two The Caregiver pulled me in with perfect prose, telling me the story of Ana and Mara, a mother and daughter living through totalitarian times in Brazil in the 70's and 80's. It's the story of revolutionaries, and what a mother will do so she and her daughter can survive, and how a daughter looks back on her mother and the choices she made. In telling this story, Park reminds all daughters that their mothers are human, warning us that life is fragile and there isn't always time to make peace. Two quotes stood out, reminding me of my mom and others who have recently died: "People think that when you're sick, you want pity. But it's not pity, it's love. It's the only thing that make it more bearable. I wish people didn't say, "I'm sorry," or "Oh, what a tragedy, I can't imagine what you're going through." that just makes me feel bad for you, actually, that you have to deal with my sickness." She looks out the window, where more people were parking cars, arriving to celebrate. "I wish people would say instead, I care about you or I love you. That way, I get something to hang onto, something in return." "Life is a party . . . Some people had to leave in the beginning. Some people left in the middle. Some people got to stay until the end. But everyone gets to be in it, at least for a part of it, and wasn't that what mattered? And maybe getting to stay to the very end, blissfully hungover, was a luxury rather than a right, a quirk of stamina and genetics and luck. Yes, it would be lovely to stay until the end, but even if you didn't you got a chance to taste its flavors, to mingle with its strange creatures, to try out new tricks. "It wasn't that big of a deal. No need to cry, no reason to be mad. It was just a party that some were asked to leave early. My mother, Kathryn -- they had been tapped on the shoulder, singled out for some unknown reason. We would linger, watching them go." (This one was particularly poignant, as my mother's name WAS Kathryn, spelled that way. This quote is talking about two people, but to me it seemed like it was written for me about my mom.)
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  • Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
    January 1, 1970
    This was a quietly arresting read for me, and was so much more moving than I expected upon reading the blurb. The narrative follows a mother and daughter in Brazil during the 1980s and then in California in a more contemporary time. The mother, an actress, becomes entangled in a messy police operation with a civilian rebel group, and a specific incident with a known-torturer police chief changes their lives forever..On a surface level, the narrative following the aftermath of the incident is fas This was a quietly arresting read for me, and was so much more moving than I expected upon reading the blurb. The narrative follows a mother and daughter in Brazil during the 1980s and then in California in a more contemporary time. The mother, an actress, becomes entangled in a messy police operation with a civilian rebel group, and a specific incident with a known-torturer police chief changes their lives forever..On a surface level, the narrative following the aftermath of the incident is fascinating, my heart was in my mouth for much of the middle of this novel! As the novel began to wrap up, the narrative slowed and sunk into a more philosophical and contemplative state reflecting on life and connections. It was unexpectedly poignant, and in parts was incredibly moving. I flew through this book in two sittings, and knowing the context surrounding the author himself (he died of stomach cancer shortly after finishing the novel) made this a moving read..Thanks to @simonbooks for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    There are certain characters that appear in fiction (and some times in life) as background characters: caregivers; servants; gardeners; anyone who’s job it is to make another, richer person’s life smooth and comfortable. As background characters, we rarely get a chance to hear their stories, find out how they got where they are, and, most importantly, what they think. Samuel Park’s The Caregiver is one of those rare looks into the life of a character who represents so many who are bossed and not There are certain characters that appear in fiction (and some times in life) as background characters: caregivers; servants; gardeners; anyone who’s job it is to make another, richer person’s life smooth and comfortable. As background characters, we rarely get a chance to hear their stories, find out how they got where they are, and, most importantly, what they think. Samuel Park’s The Caregiver is one of those rare looks into the life of a character who represents so many who are bossed and not paid enough to look after people higher up the social ladder. In this novel, we follow Mara Alencar, an undocumented woman from Brazil, as she cares for her latest client. Mara also takes us into her past, so that we know why she left Copacabana and why she can never go back...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.
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  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    From my blog and instagram account - @livereadandprosperThank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.The story has two time periods going on at once. It starts with Mara as a 26 year old working as a caregiver for a woman with stomach cancer. The other part of this novel focuses on the relationship developement between Mara and her mother during the 80s Rio de Janeiro revolution and how it has lead to Mara's career choice.Let me preface this and say that From my blog and instagram account - @livereadandprosperThank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.The story has two time periods going on at once. It starts with Mara as a 26 year old working as a caregiver for a woman with stomach cancer. The other part of this novel focuses on the relationship developement between Mara and her mother during the 80s Rio de Janeiro revolution and how it has lead to Mara's career choice.Let me preface this and say that this isn't a book I would normally read. It's not a genre I gravitate towards. This book was full of emotions. The author, Samuel Park, had passed away from stomach cancer just after writing this book which took on a whole meaning for me while reading it. Although I did love the mother-daughter relationship depicted throughout the novel, the story never captured my attention. I felt like I was overhearing someone's life story and didn't really want to keep eavesdropping. The situations they had to go through are not lighthearted and not to be dismissed as dull, but I was anticipating a little more. It could be that I read so many thrillers that I'm always anticipating something to jump out and I'm just not used to reading something like this. In the end, it was very well written. 3/5 Stars
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  • Jordysbookclub
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was a really beautiful, well-written story about Mara, an undocumented Brazilian immigrant who spends her days taking care of a wealthy cancer patient while struggling to come to terms with the dark secrets Ana (her fiercely protective single mother) kept from her as a child. I expected the story to be more about the relationship between Mara and her patient, but clearly the title refers to Ana, who was willing to do whatever it took to protect and care for her daughter at a time I thought this was a really beautiful, well-written story about Mara, an undocumented Brazilian immigrant who spends her days taking care of a wealthy cancer patient while struggling to come to terms with the dark secrets Ana (her fiercely protective single mother) kept from her as a child. I expected the story to be more about the relationship between Mara and her patient, but clearly the title refers to Ana, who was willing to do whatever it took to protect and care for her daughter at a time of great upheaval and violence in Brazil. I thought the relationship between mother and daughter was incredibly well-written and while I had an idea where the story was heading, it only made it that much more heartbreaking when the truth was finally revealed. Definitely not something I would normally read and I’m not sure how long this book will stick with me, but I’m glad i took the time to read it.
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