The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 290 (Hardcover)
Source: Publisher: Algonquin Books
Author's Website | Twitter | Facebook
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depo
Benjamin Benjamin has lost virtually everything--his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. With few options, Ben enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he is instructed in the art of inserting catheters and avoiding liability, about professionalism, and on how to keep physical and emotional distance between client and provider. But when Ben is assigned to tyrannical nineteen-year-old Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he soon discovers that the endless mnemonics and service plan checklists have done little to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated adolescent with an ax to grind with the world at large. Though begun with mutual misgivings, the relationship between Trev and Ben evolves into a close camaraderie, and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur as they embark on a road trip to visit Trev's ailing father. A series of must-see roadside attractions divert them into an impulsive adventure interrupted by one birth, two arrests, a freakish dust storm, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious brown Buick Skylark. Bursting with energy, this big-hearted and inspired novel ponders life's terrible surprises and the heart's uncanny capacity to mend.
I know my description sounds dry and boring but this book is far from that. Both Ben and Trevor have such sad lives and have gone through very difficult events, but this is a really funny read. Both Ben and Trevor are witty and humorous characters. I found myself laughing out loud frequently. The story of Ben's disaster and how he he has gotten to his present desolate state is unveiled slowly over multiple chapters and alternates between the past and present. Ben and Trevor eventually go on a road trip and it was my favorite part of the novel. I only wish it had begun earlier in the book. On the trip we meet quirky characters with interesting stories. Road trips always make great movies to me and this one is no different. There are strange things, people, and places. The ending is interesting because there isn't a great conclusion or answer. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. It's like one door closed but all the rest of them are open but it did give me hope that Ben will eventually pick up the pieces of his life.
Though the characters are emotionally damaged, this novel is full of humor and fun. This one is definitely full of tough issues but it left me thinking, especially with that ending.