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The Worst Day of My Life, So Far by M.A.…

The Worst Day of My Life, So Far (edition 2001)

by M.A. Harper

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Title:The Worst Day of My Life, So Far
Authors:M.A. Harper
Info:Hill Street Press (2001), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Worst Day of My Life, So Far by M. A. Harper



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I've been trying to figure out how to review this book. I definitely get that it's black humor, and I didn't LOL when I was reading it. But I also didn't STOP reading until it was over. I can totally see someone who is caregiving in almost complete isolation reacting to these situations the way Jeanne does. Even though it does feel like she's whining repetitively in places, I realize that she has no respite from her mother and lives most of her days with no one to talk to other than her mother, and Velma is no longer capable of hearing her and responding the way Jeanne wishes she would--as her mother.

“Well, someone wise— I forget who, but it wasn’t Tolkien— someone once said that a hero is simply a person who does something important for another person who is unable to do it for himself. I wish I could remember who said that, because it’s so basic a definition, so easy to grasp.”

Harper, M.A.. The Worst Day Of My Life, So Far (p. 200). booksBnimble. Kindle Edition.

I sent the author a message to try to determine who said this quote what his/her precise wording was. I feel that this definition of a hero or heroine says something important about the process of caregiving and the people who do it, whether they do it willingly or out of obligation. I wish they would all know that they are heroes or heroines when people who don't understand call them martyrs and "overdramatic."People don't line up to help the caregivers do what they know needs needs to be done--they line up to share what the caregivers are doing "wrong." It doesn't help the person with Alzheimer's, and it doesn't help the caregiver. ( )
  gentlespirit512 | Nov 22, 2016 |
Many stories start out with a setting of a protagonist in a dysfunctional family. This novel reverses the trend. In The Worst Day of My Life, So Far, by M. A. Harper, the core of this family, the mother and father, are completely in love. Neither parent is cheating on the other. If there is any problem at all, hinted at in the beginning of the story, it is that the mother is slavishly devoted to the husband. He is her hobby. But that is OK, mom has his total support as well. So the children shouldn’t really have any problems. Not so.

The novel has 36 chapters. The first 18 chapters are about how the characters got here, the place where the main theme of the work will take precedence over everything else. The development of all characters is presented through the lens of Jeanette, or Jeanne, or Punkin; all of these titles are the main ones used by other characters for Jeanne. The main theme of the book is the travails of a caregiver daughter, Jeanne, for a loved one. Velma, Jeanne’s mother is in a steadily descending spiral towards the end point of Alzheimer’s Syndrome. Jeanne must physically keep up with the demands of her mother’s care and mentally deal with her own feelings of having led an incomplete and possibly inconsequential life.

In her earlier life, Dad had always taken care of Mom. As the family had grown, Dad noticed that there was something wrong with Velma. He didn’t want to worry daughter Jeanne and her husband Larry, or son Rocky and wife Barbara about it. As C. Ray felt his own health deteriorating he asked Jeanne to promise him that she would take care of Velma if something bad happened. She promised. He died.

She should not have to do this alone. Brother Rocky and wife Barbara should be able to help. But Rocky works constantly trying to keep Barbara in a comfortable lifestyle so she won’t run off with her latest love interest … again. Jeanne feels bad for her brother and maybe envious of Barbara.

Jeanne could not turn to husband Larry for help. Their married life centered on his search to become a successful comedian. Failure as a comedian and forced employment in the garment industry was such a disappointment to Larry that he extended his failure to marriage. Larry had divorced Jeanne, although his parents, Sid and Nancy continued to be friends to Jeanne. Nancy frequently gave moral support to Jeanne through phone calls, but Jeanne remained stuck with the physical care.

Jeanne’s son Conrad was away at college. He appears initially very self-centered with so little contact with his mom that he was of no help to Jeanne. She even considered not going to her son’s graduation due to the demands of taking care of Velma.

Jeanne is very much a stay at home mom to her mom, Velma. She has nothing to do but think. She thinks about her life. Was it wasted or not? Is she doing the right thing or not? What about her life, doesn’t she have the right to a self-fulfilled life? Through all of this, Jeanne tries to lead a life that is not one of constantly whining. One way she does this is by reflecting on the possibilities of her life as well as the lives of other members of her family. As a result, we have a very interesting chapter about a time when Rocky and Barbara took care of Velma for a few days while Jeanne attended Conrad’s graduation. The reader does not know what happens but reads of the possibilities as they occur in Jeanne’s mind. Other than daily reflection, Jeanne copes with daily life with music. Only one type, Souza’s military marches, helps her. The marches are loud. They drown everything else out.

The most memorable chapter for me was chapter 27. The depiction of Alzheimer’s as it may be seen from inside the victim’s mind was powerful enough to evoke tears. It is one of those game- changer moments that will forever alter the way I look at this disease. ( )
  ajarn7086 | Jul 22, 2016 |
I got this book because the cover and title seemed to indicate that it would be a humorous book.

Never judge a book by its cover or its title. The book is not humorous, even though I get the feeling Harper may have wanted it to be. However, there's only so much "humor" one can wring out of Alzheimer's, particularly if you're writing from the perspective of the caregiver.

Ostensibly, the story is about Jeanne Buchanan - a young woman brought up by a wonderful father and beautiful mother; she goes to college, gets married, has a son, gets divorced, goes back home to care for her mother (who now has Alzheimer's), and finds out that her son is gay. Plus lots more.

Unfortunately, there is no feeling in the book. Harper seems simply to be putting information on paper, not really paying attention to whether she is writing a tragedy, a comedy, a drama, or what. This is just vomiting up words on paper. The book - and story - is not bad; it's just the product of a writer who apparently couldn't be bothered to feel anything about what she was writing. ( )
  jpporter | Mar 27, 2016 |
Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is not easy. It can be especially difficult when the person has played a major role in your life, primarily a negative one. But in THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE, SO FAR, M.A. Harper manages to explore the experiences of Jeanne who returned home to Auletta, Louisiana, to help with her mother as the disease takes away more and more of her identity and does it with honesty, wit, and a philosophic bent. She sees the disease as a personhood loss, not a memory loss and asks, “Who is a person, when she no longer knows who she is? Will she care?”
Taking care of her mother as she slipped further away gave her time to think about what her life had been like as a child and her relationship with her mother.
Growing up with the beautiful Velma as her mother, Jeanne never measured up to expectations, though she was never sure what those expectations were. “Our role model was perfection.” She was aware of the differences in the way boys and girls were raised: Boys got encouragement. Girls got criticism.
Her father provided some support. When she told him, “Boys think I’m ugly.” he responded “Boys ain’t got no sense. That’s why we send boys out to fight the wars.” Boys, on the other hand, didn’t care about their own looks if they had some sort of talent. He compared her to a pearl which takes time to develop its beauty. “Outer beauty isn’t built to last, baby, and it never does....God sent us into this world with whatever looks we have, but we ourselves are responsible for how our faces look after age fifty.”
She openly addresses questions that people caring for a person with Alzheimer’s often experience. She has to deal with the paranoia and accusations. While she wanted to move her mother to a nursing home, she was filled with guilt as if it could be interpreted as something she always wanted to do instead of wanting to care for her personally. When people asked how she, Jeanne, was feeling, she said she was fine and they shouldn’t worry about her. Later, she realized she should have accepted help when it was offered.
Other questions she asks are “Who gets to live his own life?” and “How can parents parent their children without making the kids resent them?”
And she eventually realized that “What occupies your own mind...are plans, not worries. Plans are sensible and actually sort of masculine, when worries are silly and half-imagined, and lurk in the fuzziest shadows of femininity.”
If you are looking for a book with specific suggestions about how to deal with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, this isn’t the book. But it is the book to see how experience can help caregivers can come to terms with their own feelings and actions. I found it well-written, realistic, somewhat caustic, witty, and philosophical.
This book was a free Amazon download. ( )
  Judiex | Feb 4, 2016 |
Excellent! Quick read! Jeanine, 40 something, is called on to fulfill a promise made to her father before he died. "Take care of your mother". Well, mother has Alzheimers and Jeanine has no husband, so no reason not to move from Manhattan to L.A to live and care for mom. Funny in spots but heartbreaking, as Jeanine sees briefer and briefer glimpses of the mother she remembers from childhood. ( )
  camplakejewel | Oct 29, 2013 |
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Book description
A poignant, often hilarious, story of one woman's journey toward self-discovery and confidence, while caring for her mother who has Alzheimer's
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156007185, Paperback)

In The Worst Day of My Life, So Far, acclaimed novelist M. A. Harper takes us into the complex mind of Jeanne Roth, a middle-aged woman forced to return to a home state she'd rather forget. An unlikely caretaker, Jeanne must come to terms with a past filled with the shadows of her mother--a once vibrant femme fatale now suffering from Alzheimer's. As she watches her mother's grace and charm slowly slip away, Jeanne is forced to reflect on her own goals and find a new hero to look up to. An expert at analyzing others while neglecting her own troubles, Jeanne is suddenly squaring off directly with the one person she has tried to avoid: herself.

With witty and acerbic prose, Harper tells the poignant, yet hilarious, story of one woman's journey toward self-discovery and confidence. Through the ups and downs of Jeanne, we gradually learn how important it is to confront the thoughts and worries that plague our own lives. A timely legend that shows there are no dead ends in life-only long roads--The Worst Day of My Life, So Far will make you laugh and cry and want more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:11 -0400)

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