My Review of Susan Ellen Toth’s No Saints Around Here

18778012Because of my own journey which began last spring in assuming responsibility for my mother who was diagnosed with numerous cardiac issues and faced two major cardiac procedures (she is currently doing well for which I am grateful), it was with a greater interest that I requested via Net Galley to review author Susan Ellen Toth’s forthcoming book No Saints Around Here: A Caregiver Days. To be published in April by the University of Minnesota Press, No Saints Around Here is Toth’s first person account of the final eighteen months of her care of, and life with, her husband James as he succumbed to Parkinson’s disease along with dementia.

The result is a series of written snapshots in which Toth chronicles James’ deepening decline, her emotions and coping mechanisms, her support network and the great relief it provided, their pasts separately and together, weaving it all together with the day to day realities of care giving. It is an honest and simple telling of her struggles, grief, pain, anger, and even hope as she sought to keep James at home to the very end which she did.

As both an only son who has greater responsibility for his mother’s care today and as a pastor who walks along side people who are giving care, I appreciated the glimpse into Toth’s daily life and how she coped with not just a dying spouse but a dying marriage because of terminal illness. Toth, who is an established writer in her own right, writes with an honest and essential clarity that allows the reader to be right there with her as goes through her days.

There are many topics she touches on in this book that many in the professions of counseling, medicine, social work, and ministry will find helpful and practical. Topics such as handling step-family issues, dealing with the mental and physical exhaustion of care giving, and taking care of one’s self. But it is also for care givers and their families who will benefit as well from Toth’s experiences.

I really appreciated this book for its practical wisdom and insight it offers both in my own care giving role and in my work as a clergy. I will be recommending it to others as a guide to help them as care givers and as those who help care givers.

I rate this book an ‘outstanding’ read.

Note: I received an uncorrected proof of this book via Net Galley from the publisher, The University of Minnesota Press in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

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