Friday, September 14, 2012

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Jonathan Evison's book is full of eclectic, quirky characters. The story centers mainly around Trev, a nineteen year old with muscular dystrophy and his caregiver, Ben Benjamin.  Although it seems odd that Ben would want to be Trev's caregiver, the trauma and heartbreak he has endured are not immediately revealed.  It is only through Ben's own recollections interspersed throughout the book that we become aware of his two children, Piper and Jodi, who are no longer alive.  He is still resistant to his wife's plans to divorce him and has little to look forward to, yet needs to move on as well as make a living. The two men form an unlikely friendship and eventually are given permission from Trev's mom to take a road trip.  On their way they meet up with an interesting cast of characters that lead them to take part in a birth, a cross country chase by a Buick Skylark, and a few arrests. 
Evison's inspiration (if you could call it that) for this novel comes from his own grief.  Decades ago his then sixteen year old sister took a trip that she never returned from, killed in a car accident.  His family is still trying to come to terms with the loss of this beloved sister.  Evison knows what it feels like to be Ben Benjamin, to want to remain in the past, yet to need to move forward and still embrace life. 
Amazon quotes a portion of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving that I also underlined in my reading:
"Listen to me: everything you think you know, every relationship you’ve ever taken for granted, every plan or possibility you’ve ever hatched, every conceit or endeavor you’ve ever concocted, can be stripped from you in an instant. Sooner or later, it will happen. So prepare yourself. Be ready not to be ready. Be ready to be brought to your knees and beaten to dust. Because no stable foundation, no act of will, no force of cautious habit will save you from this fact: nothing is indestructible."
Although this might sound melodramatic and a bit depressing, Evison has hit upon a truth of life. We simply don't know what tomorrow may hold.  And while Evison's novel does hold some sorrow, it is also a hopeful book as Ben Benjamin and Trev both learn to move on.

1 comment:

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Glad u had a chance to read this one. I liked it.