They May Not Mean To, But They Do, by Cathleen Schine


Joy Bergman is 86 years old and living in New York with her rapidly declining husband. She carries on as well as she can, continuing to work to maintain their care and her sanity, and trying to keep all her proverbial balls in the air. However, the Bergman’s two grown children, Molly and Daniel, have other ideas about how Joy should behave and they never miss an opportunity to tell her. They think that she should put her husband in a home, sell their vacation house, and stop working. And although they are well intended, they never quite realize how much of their mother’s independence and control they are trying to strip from her.


They May Not Mean To, But They Do is a story about growing old, about families and love and loneliness and fear. It is not a fast or action packed or dynamic book, but it is beautifully written and so realistic it almost depressed me. This is the first book I’ve read from Schine, and I was mildly surprised to read that she is considered a comic novelist, but I am interested in reading her other works to see. Overall, I enjoyed the book and thought the depiction of aging parents was spot on and interesting.


Grade – B