Sandwiched – Laurie James

Published by: She Writes Press
Pages: 300
Date Released: 08/07/2021
Date Read: 10/06/2021

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 realises 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.

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.

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