Sara was at the tender age of 12 when she found the skeleton in her prudish parents' closet: a series of novelty sex books crammed high up on a shelf in her childhood living room, all written by Sara's ordinary suburban dad, Ira. For decades the books were an unspoken secret in Sara's family until Ira developed early onset Alzheimer's disease, and announced he'd be reviving his novelty porn career—with Sara's help.
It’s already a challenge to come to terms with your parents’ shortcomings as you age. You have many, many questions. You block out memories that are too awkward or painful. But to face all this with a parent who’s losing their memory and agency adds a whole new layer of bad feelings that will probably never be dealt with. Alterman handles these topics with care and sometimes humor, yet never lacks vulnerable authenticity ... She writes hilarious, dark, and touching prose, creating that right level of cringe to inspire others to tell their own problematic childhood stories (baby boomers be damned).
Alterman, who is one of the producers of the podcast and live show Mortified, excels at telling cringeworthy stories of her youth and young adulthood --- stories that don’t flinch even as they touch on deeply uncomfortable topics and themes. She also, courageously, acknowledges her own failings in dealing with her father during his rapid decline ... and her regrets over how she failed to support her mother in her own grief ... I don’t read many memoirs, but when I do, I’m looking for ones like Alterman’s: a true story that offers hilarious anecdotes and insights but also addresses difficult topics with the same honesty and candor. Alterman’s voice is funny, irreverent and full of love for her father, and readers are unlikely to come away without a deep fondness for them and their entire family.
Alterman leavens some heavily emotional subject matter with a razor-sharp sense of humor that will help readers smile through the more painful passages. A distinctive knack for witty descriptions will also resonate ... Readers providing care for an elderly parent will find this memoir particularly appealing ... A vividly written, compassionate homage to a beloved and eccentric parent.