The caregiver A novel

Samuel Park

Book - 2018

Mara Alencar's mother Ana is the moon, the sun, the stars. Ana, a struggling voice-over actress, is an admirably brave and recklessly impulsive woman who does everything in her power to care for her little girl. With no other family or friends her own age, Ana eclipses Mara's entire world. They take turns caring for each other--in ways big and small.

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FICTION/Park Samuel
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Domestic fiction
New York : Simon & Schuster 2018.
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Physical Description
269 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Samuel Park (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

At 26, Mara is the titular caregiver for a lonely woman in her early forties with stomach cancer, who insists she'll bequeath Mara her exclusive Bel Air home upon her impending death. Mara is already too familiar with loss, having grown up in Rio de Janeiro as the only child of a chimerical single mother, Ana, for whom she was as much caretaker as she was taken care of by her. While surviving under Brazil's military dictatorship, Ana's talent for movie voice-over work gets her hired by a rebel group for a risky mission. What follows will haunt Mara always, precipitating her eventual escape to California. In alternating sections marked by Mara's different ages, Park's (This Burns My Heart, 2011) tale hauntingly examines the codependent mother-daughter bond amid complicated layers created by the pursuit of truth. Beyond the affecting pages, Park's own April 2017 death of stomach cancer at 41 is a somber factor. The inclusion of his New York Times essay, "I Had a 9 Percent Chance. Plus Hope," at the book's end makes this an especially melancholic experience.  Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

This moving posthumously published novel by Park (This Burns My Heart) examines the relationship between a mother and daughter after years of mutual misunderstanding. Ana, a voice-over actress, struggles to provide for her six-year-old daughter, Mara, in late 1970s Rio de Janeiro. Desperate for money, Ana takes on a dangerous job with revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the corrupt police chief. What immediately transpires remains opaque to Mara—and to the reader—but it becomes apparent to Ana that she must separate from her daughter to save her from retaliation. Mara, with the help of her mother, escapes to California and years later finds work caring for a woman who's dying of stomach cancer. During their time together, Mara begins to understand Ana in new ways as she considers her role as a caretaker. Although the story occasionally lacks believability—particularly surrounding the plot against the police chief—readers will relish the wistful yearning that Park evokes. This beautiful novel is a moving meditation on the mutual dependence and unbreakable bonds of family. (Sept.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

After an intense relationship with her single mother, Anna becomes involved with a rebel group in Rio De Janeiro which leads to their separation, until, years later, forced to flee the country, Anna takes a job caring for a young cancer patient and comesto terms with her turbulent childhood.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Mara is forced to escape Rio de Janeiro after her mother becomes involved with a civilian rebel group trying to oust the city's terrible police chief in this new novel from the author of This Burns my Heart.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A FALL 2018 HIGHLY ANTICIPATED SELECTION BY * PEOPLE * O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * VULTURE * CHICAGO TRIBUNE * THE MILLIONS * FAST COMPANY * SEATTLE TIMES * ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH * BOOKPAGE * BOOKRIOT * CONDE NAST TRAVELER *"[A] luminous mother-daughter saga."'ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY"Lovely and heartbreaking."'PEOPLE"A beautiful testament to [Park's] extraordinary talents as a storyteller'A ferocious page-turner."'KIRKUS REVIEWS (STARRED REVIEW)From the critically acclaimed author of This Burns My Heart comes a gorgeous, emotionally wise tale about a daughter who unearths the hidden life of her enigmatic mother.Mara Alencar's mother Ana is her moon, her sun, her stars. Ana, a struggling voice-over actress, is an admirably brave and recklessly impulsive woman who does everything in her power to care for her little girl. With no other family or friends her own age, Ana eclipses Mara's entire world. They take turns caring for each other'in ways big and small. Their arrangement begins to unravel when Ana becomes involved with a civilian rebel group attempting to undermine the city's torturous Police Chief, who rules over 1980s Rio de Janeiro with terrifying brutality. Ana makes decisions that indelibly change their shared life. When Mara is forced to escape, she emigrates to California as an undocumented immigrant and finds employment as a caregiver to a young woman dying of stomach cancer. It's here that she begins to grapple with her turbulent past and starts to uncover vital truths'about her mother, herself, and what it means to truly take care of someone. Told with vivid imagery and subtle poignancy, The Caregiver is a moving and profound story that asks us to investigate who we are'as children and parents, immigrants and citizens, and ultimately, humans looking for vital connectivity