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Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go

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Laurie James spent most of her life wondering what it means to belong; loneliness dictated the choices she made. She rarely shared this secret with others, however; it was always hidden behind a carefree and can-do attitude. When she’s in her mid-forties, Laurie’s mother has a heart attack and her husband’s lawyer delivers some shocking news. She suddenly finds herself san Laurie James spent most of her life wondering what it means to belong; loneliness dictated the choices she made. She rarely shared this secret with others, however; it was always hidden behind a carefree and can-do attitude. When she’s in her mid-forties, Laurie’s mother has a heart attack and her husband’s lawyer delivers some shocking news. She suddenly finds herself sandwiched between caring for her parents, managing unruly caregivers, raising four teenage daughters, and trying to understand the choices of the husband she thought she knew. Laurie’s story is about one woman’s struggle to “do it all” while facing the reality that the “ideal life” and “perfect family” she believed could save her was slowly crumbling beneath her. Laurie tries everything to keep her family together―seeks therapy, practices yoga, rediscovers nature, develops strong female friends, and begins writing―but as she explores the layers of her life and heals her past, she realizes that she’s the only one who can create the life she wants and deserves. Sandwiched is a memoir about what it means to let go of the life you planned in order to find the life you belong to.


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Laurie James spent most of her life wondering what it means to belong; loneliness dictated the choices she made. She rarely shared this secret with others, however; it was always hidden behind a carefree and can-do attitude. When she’s in her mid-forties, Laurie’s mother has a heart attack and her husband’s lawyer delivers some shocking news. She suddenly finds herself san Laurie James spent most of her life wondering what it means to belong; loneliness dictated the choices she made. She rarely shared this secret with others, however; it was always hidden behind a carefree and can-do attitude. When she’s in her mid-forties, Laurie’s mother has a heart attack and her husband’s lawyer delivers some shocking news. She suddenly finds herself sandwiched between caring for her parents, managing unruly caregivers, raising four teenage daughters, and trying to understand the choices of the husband she thought she knew. Laurie’s story is about one woman’s struggle to “do it all” while facing the reality that the “ideal life” and “perfect family” she believed could save her was slowly crumbling beneath her. Laurie tries everything to keep her family together―seeks therapy, practices yoga, rediscovers nature, develops strong female friends, and begins writing―but as she explores the layers of her life and heals her past, she realizes that she’s the only one who can create the life she wants and deserves. Sandwiched is a memoir about what it means to let go of the life you planned in order to find the life you belong to.

30 review for Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan Z

    The book starts with a powerful quote "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow." by Mary Anne Radmacher. WOW! That literally gave me the chills and definitely got my attention. In her memoir, Laurie James shares her innermost feelings about what it's like to be spread thin, caring for children and aging parents, while trying to hold onto an imperfect marriage. I was intensely connected to this memoir from the beg The book starts with a powerful quote "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow." by Mary Anne Radmacher. WOW! That literally gave me the chills and definitely got my attention. In her memoir, Laurie James shares her innermost feelings about what it's like to be spread thin, caring for children and aging parents, while trying to hold onto an imperfect marriage. I was intensely connected to this memoir from the beginning when I realized Laurie's wedding song was same as mine. There were also parellels in her parenting. She read Goodnight Moon nightly to her girls. This is a time I remember fondly as do my daughters. Laurie voiced her opinion to her daughters that their relationship with each other was the strongest in the world and they should take care of it. I regularly preached the same message. As Laurie's marriage was teetering on the edge, she found solace in yoga. I too have found that yoga has had a profound impact on both my mood and mindset. And lastly, she had to deal with the care of her parents, most especially her mom. Although I was much younger when my mom's health declined (my teens instead of her 40s), I still felt torn between my obligations at home and my desires to be a kid. Women are expected to wear many hats. That of a spouse, daughter, mother, friend, sister, employee, boss, volunteer, to name some. Each comes with its own expectations, but usually the greatest expectation and disappointment comes from within us. Disappointment and burnout leads to resentment, anger, depression, and physical ailments. Sandwiched is a great reminder that our greatest obligation is to ourselves Laurie's bravery to tell her story makes me think that someday I might actually get the courage and share my story. Perhaps I will actually put pen to paper, be vulnerable and let the world in on who I am and how I came to be.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jamele (BookswithJams)

    I enjoyed this memoir by Laurie James and following her journey of finding herself later in life. Feeling lonely and as if she didn’t quite fit in most of her life, she allowed this to dictate her choices, which may not have always been the best ones, and it was not until some unexpected things happened to her did she understand she is the only one who can create her own happiness, no one else can do it for her. It is always great to see someone take charge of their life and come into their own, I enjoyed this memoir by Laurie James and following her journey of finding herself later in life. Feeling lonely and as if she didn’t quite fit in most of her life, she allowed this to dictate her choices, which may not have always been the best ones, and it was not until some unexpected things happened to her did she understand she is the only one who can create her own happiness, no one else can do it for her. It is always great to see someone take charge of their life and come into their own, and I really like books like this, even better when I can relate to them. Laurie and I had some similar traits, I was also adopted and understood the loneliness she talks about, and I was in a marriage that was not ideal for way too long, but it took years to do something about it. I can though now honestly say I am the happiest I have ever been but it was definitely not an easy road to get where I am now. Thank you to BookSparks and She Writes Press for the gifted copy to review. This one is available now!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Story Circle Book Reviews

    "I knew life would continue with ups and downs.....But for now, I felt free." Laurie James wrote a candid, heartfelt, and revealing memoir. Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go catalogs her long quest to belong and chronicles her battles with a tempestuous marriage and elder care. I eagerly devoured her writing. It is mesmerizing and engaging. I found her story to be extremely relevant, especially as a woman and a daughter facing the same prospect in respect to parents. James explore "I knew life would continue with ups and downs.....But for now, I felt free." Laurie James wrote a candid, heartfelt, and revealing memoir. Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go catalogs her long quest to belong and chronicles her battles with a tempestuous marriage and elder care. I eagerly devoured her writing. It is mesmerizing and engaging. I found her story to be extremely relevant, especially as a woman and a daughter facing the same prospect in respect to parents. James explores traumatic childhood episodes that led to estrangement with one of her siblings. Although close to her mother, the author always felt she was not good enough and that her mother was somewhat aloof. Later revelations point to the reasons for the distance, perceived or not, by her mother. James struggled for years with a marriage stuck in a quagmire. She tried counseling, both individual and couple, along with meditation and yoga to cope with a husband who appeared disaffected and indifferent. As a mother to four daughters, she juggled numerous responsibilities on the home front while increasingly assuming the complicated care for her elderly parents. I found her difficulties with elder care to be the most compelling part of her story. As it often happens, the obligation for the care of elderly parents falls to the daughter(s). James learned quickly she could not rely on her brother nor her husband for support or assistance, when sorting out snarled issues pertaining to her parents. She indeed was a member of the "sandwich generation," caring for both of her parents' mounting medical needs while she still had children at home. I had great compassion for James as she described her myriad of issues with caregivers. It became a full time job for her. It's an insurmountable problem as aging parents cannot afford assisted living or suffer from increasing illness and medical complexities. I was impressed by her proactivity and her determination. Being a patient's advocate is no easy task, particularly when it involves your parents. Sandwiched is an enlightening read. Juggling generations is a huge feat and James deserves credit for her devotion and care to her parents, even if it often came at her own expense. Some of her situations were resolved, while new ones arose. Ultimately, James discovered her freedom and reconciled her past in a manner and method that worked for her. Life is now on her terms and I hope she is relishing it. Story Circle Book Reviews thanks Janilyn Kocher for this review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Smith

    I am a big fan of memoir and enjoy reading about other people's lives. And I did enjoy some aspects of this story. I thought that James wrote poignantly about adoption issues and about the abuse she suffered as a young girl and a teenager. This situation is one that needs to be talked about more to allow young people to come forward when they encounter this type of abuse. I also enjoyed reading about her children and the many ways that she was there for her children as well as her parents, as th I am a big fan of memoir and enjoy reading about other people's lives. And I did enjoy some aspects of this story. I thought that James wrote poignantly about adoption issues and about the abuse she suffered as a young girl and a teenager. This situation is one that needs to be talked about more to allow young people to come forward when they encounter this type of abuse. I also enjoyed reading about her children and the many ways that she was there for her children as well as her parents, as they aged in place. However, I thought that James was clueless about how most of America lives. Whenever she brought up a crisis for her mom, who was in failing health for several years, the first thing she mentioned was how this was going to affect her (the author's) life. There was the time when a health crisis interfered with a week long ski vacation James as taking with her children in their second home. And then another crisis interfered with a ski trip to Canada for James' 50th birthday where she was going to go heli-skiing. And the time her parents' health care issues almost interfered with her planned two-week trip to Australia. On top of all these fabulous vacations, there was the thousands of dollars James was spending on yoga retreat weekends, energy classes, week long therapy sessions and other types of therapy and intervention. For most Americans, this type of vacation is a once in a lifetime occurrence, or frankly, it just is not in the picture. Honestly, I do not begrudge James any of her expensive pursuits, but I think she would be wise to acknowledge that these are problems that most of us do not face.. When there is a health crisis for a family member, we cannot afford to pay for round-the clock caregivers, we may have to rearrange work schedules, not vacation schedules and therapy weekends are out of our price range. This lack of awareness on James' part made this book difficult to read. I cannot recommend it. Thanks to netgalley and She Writes Press for the free e-copy of this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Books By Your Bedside

    Thank you to She Writes Press and Laurie James for the advanced reader copy of Sandwiched. Laurie’s writing is so descriptive that nothing is left to chance, you don’t have to figure out what it is she’s talking about or rely on your imagination because you can picture everyone and everything, and this helps put you right in the centre of everything. I don’t have any children of my own but I do have seven children under the age of 10 in my family so I do have a moderate understanding of how diffic Thank you to She Writes Press and Laurie James for the advanced reader copy of Sandwiched. Laurie’s writing is so descriptive that nothing is left to chance, you don’t have to figure out what it is she’s talking about or rely on your imagination because you can picture everyone and everything, and this helps put you right in the centre of everything. I don’t have any children of my own but I do have seven children under the age of 10 in my family so I do have a moderate understanding of how difficult and tiresome it can be to raise children as well as run a household, keep a job, and hold down a marriage. Laurie doesn’t over-egg the difficulties of motherhood, it’s all written with such realism from the heart, no matter how difficult her experience might have been. My personal experience of caregivers and hospices in the UK are completely different to Laurie’s experience in the US, but at the crux of it, we just want the best people to look after the most important people in our lives. I can’t imagine the stress Laurie had to balance with the deterioration of her parents, deterioration of her home life, and her traumatic childhood experiences still loitering in the shadows. I know each relationship has its ups and downs and each relationship has two sides and this is Laurie’s story, but I felt an instant warmth towards her but an instant distance from David. Maybe there is an unconscious bias here because the book is coming from Laurie’s hand, but that is my immediate impression. I mainly loved her way of writing about therapy. Therapy and counseling can be very decisive and they are obviously very intense and emotional experiences. I have been in therapy on and off for 15 years and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Laurie shows the true ugliness that therapy can bring out, but also shows just what positives can come from it when you begin to realise the life you deserve.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Latisha’s Low-key Life

    Thank you @netgalley and @shewritespress for the advanced copy to read and review. Sandwiched is Laurie James’s memoir. It revolves around her life experiences, starting when she was a child: adopted, sexually abused, and treated poorly by her brothers. The story continues on to take the reader through her life: marriage, children, caring for aging parents, family relationships, and finally self-discovery. Synopsis I found Sandwiched to be well written and interesting, yet at times I wish I would h Thank you @netgalley and @shewritespress for the advanced copy to read and review. Sandwiched is Laurie James’s memoir. It revolves around her life experiences, starting when she was a child: adopted, sexually abused, and treated poorly by her brothers. The story continues on to take the reader through her life: marriage, children, caring for aging parents, family relationships, and finally self-discovery. Synopsis I found Sandwiched to be well written and interesting, yet at times I wish I would have known the views of the other family members she writes about. There is more than one side to every story, but this is Laurie’s view as it is her memoir. My Thoughts If nothing else, Sandwiched stresses the importance of self-care and seeking help to deal with life’s issues. I am not a monster fan of the type of week-long intensive therapy this couple was involved in. It is hard for me to understand how holding a doll and talking to it, pretending it is yourself as a child, can help an adult. I guess letting out the emotion revolving around childhood trauma can be helpful. I’ve never been one who felt that any of the team-building activities or other such events I had to experience for work were helpful. I haven’t walked in anyone else’s shoes though, so I wouldn’t fully understand the situation and what does or doesn’t help a person. Laurie does a fantastic job of explaining her life and her choices to get to the point she is at today. Read more reviews at latishaslowkeylife.com

  7. 4 out of 5

    J

    I could see myself in Laurie at times when she did things to please her husband or did things when she was so tired, but she finds the strength to continue doing it. She took care of her husband, children, home, work, she was the one responsible for just about everything. When her parents got sick, and she had to start taking care of them too, it is overwhelming. The day does come when she has to face reality, the reality of what is actually happening and not the reality of what she had been try I could see myself in Laurie at times when she did things to please her husband or did things when she was so tired, but she finds the strength to continue doing it. She took care of her husband, children, home, work, she was the one responsible for just about everything. When her parents got sick, and she had to start taking care of them too, it is overwhelming. The day does come when she has to face reality, the reality of what is actually happening and not the reality of what she had been trying to force happen. The day she moves herself up on the priority list and instead of taking care of everyone else and worrying about them, she starts to take care of herself. As she learns about herself, begins to heal from the things that happened in the past, and begins to understand things, she begins to truly begin a new journey to be happy. As I read the book, I knew what she was talking about, but it is something we don't learn until we are older, and i kept thinking how different life would be if we did that at the beginning of our adult life. This is a memoir of holding on and letting go, so maybe women reading this will begin the letting go of the expectations women have put on them a lot earlier in their life after reading it. I received an ARC from She Writes Press through NetGalley, and it is a book I am going to recommend.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jane Dennish

    Sandwiched is an honest memoir of what it's like to be an aging child. And by aging child, I mean an adult stuck in the middle, or in the sandwhich of life. Your parents are getting older and so you have to take care of them and your children are getting older, but you still have to take care of them! The book is written in a really relaxed style that allows you to get to know Laurie James. It felt like a conversation. I enjoyed her journey. There were times I wanted to yell at her to change her Sandwiched is an honest memoir of what it's like to be an aging child. And by aging child, I mean an adult stuck in the middle, or in the sandwhich of life. Your parents are getting older and so you have to take care of them and your children are getting older, but you still have to take care of them! The book is written in a really relaxed style that allows you to get to know Laurie James. It felt like a conversation. I enjoyed her journey. There were times I wanted to yell at her to change her decision, but I appreciated her frakness. I especially connected with her journey becuase I am dealing with my own mother who has Parkinson's. It is a roller coaster battle with my dad as the primary caregiver. I am an only child, and I can't imagine what hurdles will lie ahead, knowing how hard it has been so far. I don't have children of my own, but I could still empathize with James in that aspect as I know how much a job can pull one in the opposite direction. I think her descriptions of her therapy sessions with her husband were what made me appreciate her the most. I think all of can understand an aging parent and the conflicts that arise, but not everyone is brave enough to expose a failing marriage and show what is not working. I applaud her for that!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    "I made excuses for his behavior and walked lightly when he was home." From Sandwhiched 3 stars. warnings: sexual assault of a minor, end of life care, elder abuse Simple prose jumps around detailing events in the authors life, mainly focused on a struggling marraige and decline of her parents. It started out alright, but midway it started to drag repeating the same story. It was maddening that she kept hiring horrible people to watch her parents, and similiarly taking her husbands disinterest in h "I made excuses for his behavior and walked lightly when he was home." From Sandwhiched 3 stars. warnings: sexual assault of a minor, end of life care, elder abuse Simple prose jumps around detailing events in the authors life, mainly focused on a struggling marraige and decline of her parents. It started out alright, but midway it started to drag repeating the same story. It was maddening that she kept hiring horrible people to watch her parents, and similiarly taking her husbands disinterest in her. There were several times she would hire someone, and seemingly hope for the best (I think before one skiing trip she literally says that) before leaving on another trip. All the detailing of trips and energy classes and yoga while all these serious problems are happening made me really disconected from the story and left a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe this would be useful for someone facing some of these challenges on a guide for what not to do. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for a temporary ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Laurie gives a real look into her life as she navigates between caregiver and family. Which anyone who finds themselves having to care for a loved one will attest that it is not an easy task. It is a full time job. One that is under appreciated. Yet. an important one. You have to be doctor, nurse, advocate, and daughter or son all at the same time. As Laurie shows that hiring a professional caregiver is not easy. I really appreciated that Laurie shared her story and life in her book. It really m Laurie gives a real look into her life as she navigates between caregiver and family. Which anyone who finds themselves having to care for a loved one will attest that it is not an easy task. It is a full time job. One that is under appreciated. Yet. an important one. You have to be doctor, nurse, advocate, and daughter or son all at the same time. As Laurie shows that hiring a professional caregiver is not easy. I really appreciated that Laurie shared her story and life in her book. It really made me become close to her and invested in her story. Which is exactly what I am looking for when reading memoirs. I want to truly feel like I am getting an honest real look into the person's story that I am reading about. In a way after reading this book some of the stress I am currently experiencing in my life, I felt a little lighter as it had gone away. Not really sure why but it did reading this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    I wasn't sure what to expect with this from the blurb, but I started it on Friday on my lunch hour at work, and devoured the rest of it Saturday afternoon. I'm honestly not sure exactly what it was that drew me in so much, but I loved Laurie's writing, her honesty about her marriage, dealing with her childhood demons (real and imagined), caring for aging parents and the struggles around that whilst at the same time still raising her own children, all without the full participation of her husband I wasn't sure what to expect with this from the blurb, but I started it on Friday on my lunch hour at work, and devoured the rest of it Saturday afternoon. I'm honestly not sure exactly what it was that drew me in so much, but I loved Laurie's writing, her honesty about her marriage, dealing with her childhood demons (real and imagined), caring for aging parents and the struggles around that whilst at the same time still raising her own children, all without the full participation of her husband. Her sense of relief at digging deep within herself and finally making the difficult decision to leave her marriage and strike out on her own was palpable at the end. You are the only person who can make the changes you need, and change is never easy. Especially difficult for moms, who always put the needs of their family before their own, but so important. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the ARC to read and review. All opinions are strictly my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Rasmussen

    Laurie James’ book, Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding on and Letting Go is a relatable, honest account of life for many women in the sandwich generation. The memoir kept me turning pages even when I had other things I was supposed to be doing. I loved the way I could hear Laurie’s voice as I read, and how it seemed like she was speaking directly to me. It would be impossible not to be empathetic to everything she went through. Her description of her upbringing, her issues in her marriage, and the Laurie James’ book, Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding on and Letting Go is a relatable, honest account of life for many women in the sandwich generation. The memoir kept me turning pages even when I had other things I was supposed to be doing. I loved the way I could hear Laurie’s voice as I read, and how it seemed like she was speaking directly to me. It would be impossible not to be empathetic to everything she went through. Her description of her upbringing, her issues in her marriage, and the way she tried to help her mother when she went downhill, made me feel like I was living it all along with her. This memoir is also helpful in learning what to do and what not to do, when dealing with caregivers, which as our parents get older, is especially important. All the issues Laurie had to deal with are universal and engaging to the reader. So many women will relate to this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kamala Horwitz

    Sandwiched, A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go is a powerful and touching read that is very relatable to so many. Laurie James’ journey to find a sense of belonging and wholeness is inspiring. Her personal story of being pulled in many directions as a daughter, wife and mother illustrate the challenges women face to hold on to themselves. Laurie James has shared her hard earned wisdom with the reader, providing a beautiful example of healing and growth.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chel

    As society has children later in life, we're increasingly becoming part of the 'Sandwich Generation' with many people looking after their parents and children at the same. In this particular memoir, Laurie was doing it all and unhappy within the juggle. This book was heart felt and emotional and reflects on being responsible for everyone, getting it all done, and trying to make everyone happy. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. As society has children later in life, we're increasingly becoming part of the 'Sandwich Generation' with many people looking after their parents and children at the same. In this particular memoir, Laurie was doing it all and unhappy within the juggle. This book was heart felt and emotional and reflects on being responsible for everyone, getting it all done, and trying to make everyone happy. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    A memoir written from the heart, finding you have everything you ever wanted but so unhappy. How to come to terms with this and make peace with your past and move on. A lifetime of dilemma and subservience yet can’t just walk away, there are other people to consider. This is one woman’s journey to finding herself. A lifetime in a book, but never too late to live your best life. Thank you #NetGalley for the copy to review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    CR

    This was a great examination of woman power. This is one of those stories that empowers you to get off you butt and have you seeking guidance and start a new journey. It is unforgettable and slow burn. This self-discovery is one that I won't forget. This was a great examination of woman power. This is one of those stories that empowers you to get off you butt and have you seeking guidance and start a new journey. It is unforgettable and slow burn. This self-discovery is one that I won't forget.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kayo

    Interesting read. Hard to read of others struggles. Thanks to author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    Read for Booklist. Still thinking about how I want to review!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rakwar Oduol

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Harpham

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dana Passante

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laurie James

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane Pyles

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Strand

  25. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Lanigan

  26. 4 out of 5

    cheryl craven

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bette

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Caspar

  29. 5 out of 5

    wellreadtraveler

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marci Beech

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