The Love They Lost: Living with the Legacy of Our Parents' Divorce

Stephanie Staal, Author
Stephanie Staal, Author Delacorte Press $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-33409-9
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-385-33410-5
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Anyone contemplating divorce, or marriage for that matter, will think twice about the health and well-being of their children over the long haul after reading this intensely personal examination of how the author and 120 other adult children whose parents divorced in the 1970s and '80s--""America's first divorce generation""--have fared. Her male and female interviewees have two important traits in common: they were all under the age of 18 when their parents divorced, and their ability to engage in and maintain intimate relationships as adults has been severely affected by the legacy they share. Writes Staal, ""Recognizing that we have been affected is only the first part of the journey; the second and harder part is exploring how."" Although Staal dismisses the outsiders' perspective of divorce ""experts,"" her observations echo the recent findings of clinical psychologist Judith S. Wallerstein's 25-year longitudinal study of the effects of divorce on children. Staal's writing is marred by overreaching metaphors and moments of forced drama, though she is at her best when she shares the sometimes disturbing stories she has gathered. In the end, her cohesive and thoughtful commentary offers a sense of hope, corroborated by her own progress and the positive examples of some of her interviewees. Just as Hope Edelman's bestselling Motherless Daughters offered so many women a sense of camaraderie and empathy, Staal gives adult children of divorce reason to believe that by working through the past they can achieve and maintain healthy relationships with their own partners and children. (Sept.)
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