February 08, 2010 12:00 PM

Devotion

by Dani Shapiro |

REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

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MEMOIR

“I want to do better,” declares Dani Shapiro in this brave, compelling, unexpectedly witty account of one middle-class, middle-aged woman’s spiritual crisis. “I wanted to be a better mother, wife, writer…. I wanted to be someone who not only bought flaxseed oil at the health food store, but actually ingested it.”

The author of five novels and the bestselling memoir Slow Motion, Shapiro rebelled young and hard against her deeply religious Jewish family. At 40, while living a picture-perfect, secular life in woodsy Connecticut with her beloved husband and son, she realizes, “Deep inside myself, I had begun to quietly fall apart….I needed to place my faith in something.” And so she embarks on this stunningly intimate journey, hitting all the devotional hot spots: studying Torah, sitting zazen in a Buddhist temple, making a mentor of a New Age guru, plotting her next online shopping spree while practicing (or pretending to practice) yoga. Thanks to Shapiro’s excruciatingly honest self-examination and crystal clear, lyrical writing, the journey—as secular swami Steve Jobs once famously said—is indeed the reward.

Making the Rounds with Oscar

by David Dosa, M.D. |

REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT

MEMOIR

Can a cat predict death? Oscar, the feline resident of Steere House nursing home in Providence, seems to have a sixth sense, seeking out patients to sit with hours before they die. It may be the odor of dying cells that draws him, but in geriatrician Dosa’s telling, it isn’t the science that matters: It’s the comfort this uncanny tabby provides patients and their families. You’ll be moved.

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