The Revised Fundamentals of Caregivingby Jonathan Evison
Jonathan Evison has crafted a novel of the heart, a novel of unlikely heroes traveling through a grand American landscape, and most of all, a story that offers a profound look into what it takes to truly care for another person. Bursting with energy and filled with moments of absolute beauty, this bighearted and inspired novel ponders life’s terrible
Jonathan Evison has crafted a novel of the heart, a novel of unlikely heroes traveling through a grand American landscape, and most of all, a story that offers a profound look into what it takes to truly care for another person. Bursting with energy and filled with moments of absolute beauty, this bighearted and inspired novel ponders life’s terrible surprises as well as its immeasurable rewards.
Seattle Times’ 25 Best Books of 2012
Editors’ Pick for Amazon’s Best of 2012 list
"Engaging . . . The journey is reckless and wild, infused with the sad rage that makes good comedy great . . . As this carload of misfits moves east, relationships are broken and forged, and Ben recreates a kind of family. This could be horribly clichéd and yet it isn't, because Evison never bows to what we expect from happy endings." Jennifer Gilmore, The New York Times Book Review
“Evison’s third and most stealthily powerful novel . . . [is] a book so poignant yet improbably funny . . . [An] adventurous story.”Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"A journey back to life . . . bittersweet . . . It's moving and funny, and, my God, how refreshing it is to read a story about someone caring for a disabled person that isn't gauzed in sentimentality or bitterness." Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Evison’s prose is replete with his gifts for witty imagery and turns of phrase . . . With its extremely cinematic plot and collection of quirky scenes, the novel might remind you of Little Miss Sunshine meets Rain Man . . . The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is even-keeled, big-hearted, and very funny, and full of hope. Through Ben, missteps are made, and human foibles are exposed. But we also glimpse that distant shore of hard-earned redemption. For that, Evison’s novel is worth the voyage.”The Boston Globe
"It's a story of heartbreak and healing . . . This is a novel with a terrific sense of the relationship between comedy and tragedy." The Daily Beast
"Evison has given us a salty-sweet story about absorbing those hits and taking a risk to reach beyond them. What a great ride." The Seattle Times
"Evison has an easy fluidity with the dashed dreams and disappointments of characters who don't ask for pity." Seattle Weekly
"The comic novel may be the hardest work of fiction to pull off well . . . The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is a showcase of what makes a good one tick: Characters just a touch disconnected from reality, a prevailing sense of life's absurdity and a handful of rude jokes . . . Evison proves that some of the best comedy emerges from lives that have jumped the rails.”Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A warm, funny look at recovering from tragedy.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel“A cathartic novel that will leave readers breathing a heavy sigh of pleasurable release. Its offensive at times, witty, funny, and an excellent example of modern realism . . . Evison offers readers bittersweet highs and tragic lows while illuminating all the sticky, messy passages in between. No matter what you’re in the mood for, pick up this little gem. In less than 300 pages, the weight of the world will feel a little lighter on your shoulders in the aftershock of Ben’s tragedy. Your prospects may seem brighter next to Trev’s grim future. Your eyes will sting from laughter at the dark, unforgiving humor. You won’t have any regrets.”The Missourian“A zany road trip from grief to grace . . . [A] sometimes funny, sometimes slapstick, big-hearted novel.”The Oregonian“Evison's brand of feel-good storytelling comes from life's trenches, where hope and humor must endure in the face of despair.”Fort Worth Star-Telegram“Evison has developed the command of craft and tightness of focus necessary to animate quirky characters and outlandish set pieces.”Philadelphia City Paper“I think you're going to be hearing a lot about Jonathan Evison's new novel. Reviews will mention the construction of the book (alternating time periods, brilliantly handled), the secondary characters (all vivid), the road trip (crazy and transforming), and the perfect blend of humor and sadness. One of Evison's gifts is creating characters that are easy to care about . . . It’s a thought-provoking story about two men trying to do their best in a world that doesn't play fair.”Beth Fish Reads
"Luminously moving and very funny." The Rumpus“Smart and bittersweet and attuned to the absurdity of life Evison's book is the literary version of a good grunge song.”LA Weekly (“Book of the Week” selection)
"Let's not mince words. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is far and away the best novel Jonathan Evison has ever written . . . It's funny, moving, and lively, the sort of novel that will appeal to avid readers and to people who only manage to read one or two books in a year. The secret, the trick to the book, is in the voice of the narrator, which feels so true that it simply can't be denied." The Stranger “Evison manages to find considerable humor in this plaintive story of care giving and receiving . . . A lively narrative with a poignant core and quirky, lonely characters.”Kirkus Reviews
AudioFile [Earphones Award Winner]
The Boston Globe
The Seattle Times
Fiction Writers Review
The Washington Post
The New York Times
—The New Yorker
- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)
What People are saying about this
“The funniest and most tough-minded novel I’ve read in a long time . . . This is his best novel yet.”—Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life
“Sly and surprising, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is both a goofy road trip and a mission of atonement. Jonathan Evison has the singular ability to make the heartbreaking seem jaunty.” —Stewart O’Nan, author of The Odds: A Love Story
Meet the Author
Jonathan Evison is the author of four novels, including This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, West of Here, and All About Lulu. He lives on the coast of Washington State with his wife and two children.
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I found this book to be thoroughly enjoyable. The main character was just the right mix of unlikeable and yet redeemable. I found myself rooting for him. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story about a man trying to pick up the pieces of a life that he was solely responsible for derailing.
I really tried to like this story, especially having read so many positive reviews on Amazon. But I just couldn't get with it. Firstly I tried to like Benjamin Benjamin Jr., the main character but seemed to find him too much of a loser. He spent many years with no ambition and then when his funds are running out, he takes a job as the caregiver to Trev, a boy with a degenerative disease at virtually minimal pay. Benjamin and Trev like to make fun of other people and ogle women at the mall. They use expressions that were hard to understand even knowing the reference like "I would like to give her a Gaylord Perry." Now I know that Mr. Perry was a baseball player known for putting foreign substances on baseballs but I couldn't figure out what it meant in the context of the story. Benjamin's and Trev's conversations are rife with expressions like this. I did find slightly interesting the map that the two put together of interesting places to visit and Trev's weird encounter with the lady "acrobat." Things like this kept me from rating this book lower but I still struggled through this book and found it dragged in many places. Overall I give it three stars.
Well written and a good message
With each new novel, Jonathan Evison proves that he can’t be pigeonholed as an author. You want an atypical bildungsroman? Read his All About Lulu. Looking for an ambitious historical epic? Read his West of Here. You want a buddy, road trip story that transcends that clichéd description? Read his new novel, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. Evison writes with humor, honesty, and a snappy cadence that propels you through the story even when you’d like to take your time relishing his rich characterizations and vibrant landscapes. Each of his characters is trapped by circumstances that are seemingly beyond their control but the joy of this novel is to see how they all begin to wrestle that control back from the beyond, little by little. They are all ready for it, they just have to find the courage and tenacity to do it. Evison reveals a true knack for writing these wayward, flawed characters in such a way that makes them completely relatable and worth rooting for. He writes with depth and heart and even a little bravado, showing the beauty in tragedy, the humor in life, and the power of connection.
Enjoyed the book and was surprised with the ending.
I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK WITH ITS CLEVER ROAD TRIP FORMAT, ENGAGING NARRATOR, AND ITS THEME OF REDEMPTION.
Benjamin Benjamin is in the middle of a typical mid-life crisis. Hoping to make his life change, he decides to take a class on how to be a perfect caregiver and is assigned to teenage Trevor, who suffers from muscular dystrophy. Benjamin begins to realize that life alone is the teacher and sadly there is no class to prepare him for the lesson. The road trip to visit Benjamin’s past will help change and strengthen his and Trevor’s relationship, with several hilarious bumps along the way. Jonathan Evison weaves an emotional tale of finding one’s self, while facing the past and caring for someone who uses humor as a way of coping. Readers will find themselves laughing numerous times and they will impatiently read each page as they search for the truth behind Ben’s past. Flashbacks and quick-witted responses will keep readers on their toes. Recommended for fans of emotional life stories with light-hearted twists, who are willing to take a road trip called life. Notes: This review was written for My Sister's Books. This review was originally posted on Ariesgrl Book Reviews.
I wanted to like this more but the characters felt a little one dimensional to me until the last quarter of the book. If the first 3/4 would have had the same emotional punch as the remainder, I would have given it 4 stars. I had trouble connecting with Ben until more of his past was let out.