The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel
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In The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (releasing June 24, 2016 as a Netflix Original Film titled The Fundamentals of Caring, starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez), Jonathan Evison, author of the new novel This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! and the New York Times bestseller West of Here, has crafted a novel of the heart, a story of unlikely heroes in a grand American landscape.
For Ben Benjamin, all has been lost--his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. Hoping to find a new direction, he enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he will learn to take care of people with disabilities. He is instructed about professionalism, about how to keep an emotional distance between client and provider, and about the art of inserting catheters while avoiding liability. But when Ben is assigned his first client--a tyrannical nineteen-year-old boy named Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy--he soon discovers that the endless service checklists have done nothing to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated teenager who has an ax to grind with the whole world.
Over time, the relationship between Ben and Trev, which had begun with mutual misgivings, evolves into a close friendship, and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur. The bond between them strengthens as they embark on a road trip to visit Trev’s ailing father--a journey rerouted by a series of bizarre roadside attractions that propel them into an impulsive adventure disrupted by one birth, two arrests, a freakish dust storm, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious brown Buick Skylark. By the end of that journey, Trev has had his first taste of love, and Ben has found a new reason to love life.
Bursting with energy and filled with moments of absolute beauty, this big-hearted and inspired novel ponders life’s terrible surprises as well as what it takes to truly care for another human being.
club, it might look something like the Bayside Circus. Through the narrow entrance and past the hostess station I see a slice of tawdry stage, lined with Christmas lights and speckled with glitter. Center stage, in a puddle of murky light, hangs the vacant trapeze bar. Nothing about this place—neither its busy decor nor its high ceilings nor its odor of fried chicken and mop water, nor the fact that it’s too dark to see your food—is appetizing. One look at the hostess in her tight pink leggings
often than not eating four completely different meals but eating them together, unquestionably, indivisibly together. “Please,” I hear her say again. I let it hang there, this desolate plea, realizing that it’s probably the last of its kind, for every remaining shred of her patience seems to have gone into it. “Do you remember when we went to the ghost town,” I say. “When you were pregnant with Jo—” “Of course, I remember,” she says. “Do you remember how, right before it happened, Piper got—”
Parkway looks like Xanadu with its tropical courtyard. The night clerk is wearing a blazer. He eyes us doubtfully one by one as we filter into the lobby through the double-glass doors. Indeed, we are a ragtag cabal. Without hesitation, I produce my wallet and attempt to book a two-room suite with on-demand cable and complimentary breakfast, fairly confident my card will not be declined. I paid the minimum two days before we left, which should leave $480—give or take—after the cash advance for the
sticky fiasco in which I’m forced to ply Piper into submission with cotton candy and overpriced sarsaparillas. Janet will need to rest her swollen ankles. Some old lady will probably drop dead of a heat stroke at our feet while we’re waiting in line for the Mystery Shack. And yet . . . and yet . . . Calico surprises, even dazzles, in its hokey fashion! The whole town is air-conditioned. There’s a whorehouse. An apothecary. A jail. You get to chuff around the perimeter in a little train. You get
throat, wait. Still nothing. “Try knocking,” says Trev. I rap on the door. We wait. “Maybe he ran to the store,” I say, rapping again. “At one a.m.?” “He’s probably waiting up for us. So maybe he got thirsty or something.” Trev fishes his phone out of his pouch and dials Bob. In a moment, we can hear the cell phone ringing from within. Then, faintly, a groan. I rap harder on the door. Another groan. “Bob, you in there?” The phone is still ringing. Now I’m knocking like a cop, with my fist.