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Book Reviews

The Behavior Code

Special Education Advisor
Review by Dennise Goldberg

"Go out and buy the Behavior Code today!!! It should be sitting on the desk of every Teacher and the bookshelves of every parent dealing with difficult behaviors in and out of schools."

Special Needs Book Review
Read review

"From cover to cover I felt Minahan and Rappaport were speaking to me, an elementary teacher and a mom. I felt they knew me, and knew those students who kept me awake at night."

Review by Chip Wood

"The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students by Jessica Minahan & Nancy Rappaport, MD, is reading I recommend for special education teachers, behavior specialists, school counselors, school psychologists, social workers, principals, and classroom teachers, who, of course, will spend the most time with the children described in this important book." — Chip Wood, Responsive School Discipline: Essentials for Elementary School Leaders (with co-author, Babs Freeman-Loftis)

In Her Wake

The Wall Street Journal
"One of the Best Health Books of 2009 — The Wall Street Journal"

"Belong[s] in any informed patient's library....Rappaport delves into the complex mental-health issues that lead some depressed people to take their own lives....The lessons she learns help her come to terms with the loss that has haunted her throughout her life, but also inspired her to become a better doctor...." — Laura Landro, The Wall Street Journal

Boston Globe

"The book has much to commend it: superb writing, conscientious reporting, the tone of a good mystery..."

Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
January 2010
Review by Andres Martin

"Nancy Rappaport is a sensitive writer of exquisitely attuned self-reflective abilities. She manages to peer into the darkness without being enveloped and overwhelmed by it."

The Huffington Post
November 17, 2010
When Our Parents Define Us: In Her Wake
review by Randy Susan Myers

"This is a book generous and comforting because of the truth. It is a book that clarifies one's own thoughts on the meaning of past and family. It is deeply moving. "

The American Journal of Psychiatry
July 2010

"Much like a watercolor painting, the family comes to life in this book as details are learned and feelings expressed. ... There is much to appreciate here in terms of grief and loss and the value of knowing about one's family."

Family Court Review
Vol. 49, No. 4, October 2011

"In Her Wake is a fine and well-written book, a meditation on loss and an illustration of resilience. Dr. Rappaport is guided by a clear-eyed, compassionate, insistent honesty, and the portrait of her mother that she manages to construct is both solidly grounded and achingly evanescent. This is an outstanding book for those working with families who have experienced the consequences of suicide or high conflict divorce, for those who have been touched by suicide in their own lives, and for those who simply enjoy a compelling read." — Andrew Clark

Publishers Weekly
7/20/2009 Starred Review
In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide Nancy Rappaport. Basic, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-465-01450-7

In a fearless memoir of loss and grief, this Harvard Medical School assistant prof, veering between “being a detective and... a realist,” delves into a complex family history haunted by the 1963 death of her mother, a Boston socialite, from an overdose when the author was only four. Using her mother's words from newspaper clippings, notes and a novel she was writing at the time of her death, Rappaport, the youngest of six children, reconstructs a vivacious and deeply troubled wife and mother. “Didn't she know that she would leave all these shattered children wondering if it was their fault?” son Jerry laments 44 years later. Yet in pushing through her parents' turbulent marriage and troubled family history, Rappaport weaves a stunning narrative of perspective, profound sadness and unrelenting hope: “I keep trying to follow in her wake, moving in and out of my grief buoyed by the voyage of exploring her dark reality as a way of helping myself to understand her....” She has also mapped an inspiring course for anyone to dissect family dynamics and mental illness, hoping to understand and, finally, accept. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Sept.)

Psychiatric Times
November 30, 2009
Review by Alexandra M. Helper, MD.

"This well-written memoir, with appendices that list scholarly articles as well as Web-based resources, will enable therapists to better understand the full impact of suicide and early maternal loss."

Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
April 2010
Review of In Her Wake by Roberta J. Apfel, MD, MPH

In Her Wake is a courageous, compassion- ate, and thoroughly researched memoir..."
August/September 2010
In Her Wake review: Compelling work chronicles author's loss.

"This book is a gift to anyone who has lost a family member, friend or patient to suicide ... A disarmingly honest, brave memoir ..."

Death Studies
A review of In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide by Nancy Rappaport. New York: Basic Books, 2009. 297 pp. (ISBN 978-0-465-01450-7). $25.95.
Book Review by John R. Jordan
: The Aftermath of Suicide

"The story is a compelling one in which the author weaves together the complex tapestry of her family’s narrative."

Death Studies
A review of In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide by Nancy Rappaport. New York: Basic Books, 2009. 297 pp. (ISBN 978-0-465-01450-7). $25.95.
Book review Jeffrey Berman: The Illegacy of Suicide

"Rappaport has written a deeply moving study that combines several genres: memoir, mystery story, and psychiatric case study."

skirt! Boston
May 17, 2010
In Her Wake review

"This book is incredible triumph in terms of how it makes you recognize that no family is perfect, parents inevitably make mistakes along the way, but in the end, the love they have for one another can overcome anything."

The Carlat Psychiatry Blog
January 27, 2010
Review by Dr. Daniel J. Carlat

"There's really so much more to this book than I would have predicted. I highly recommend it."

Basil & Spice: Author & Book Views on Healthy Life
October 19, 2009
Lynette Fleming review.

"I couldn’t put this book down until I had turned to the very last page."

All Because Two People Fell in Love
October 17, 2009

Book Review: " of the most moving books I’ve read in a long time."

"Compelling emotional revelation ...Rappaport’s words offer encouragement, enlightenment, and hope."
Regis Schilken


“A powerful and eloquent book about loss and incomprehension, and a unique journey of learning and reconciliation.” Kay Redfield Jamison, Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; author of An Unquiet Mind and Nothing Was the Same

“Rappaport writes of that mysterious and powerful force, the mother, and the impossibility of fully knowing the truth about her….She knows that the discovery of the past is never the end, but the beginning of thought.”
Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut and The Big Girls

"Heartfelt....Using notes, photographs, letters and drawings, as well as the draft of an unfinished novel her mother left behind, Rappaport attempts to not only understand the mother she barely knew, but also bring some peace to her still-grieving family."
— Kirkus

“If you looked at the trauma of a suicide as a rock thrown into a family pool, you’d see circular ripples differently affecting each part of that little body of water….In Her Wake reads like a mystery, yet it leaves us with much, much more…an almost firsthand knowledge of the power of psychic trauma.”
Lenore Terr, M.D., author of Magical Moments of Change and Too Scared to Cry

“Extraordinary….The constant in Rappaport’s prose is her steadfast refusal to sugarcoat and her fierce determination to find answers to uncomfortable questions. A well-told story that is a testament to the power of love tempered by heartache.”
Pete Earley, author of Crazy

“A touching and insightful story of love, loss, and healing.”
Marya Hornbacher, author of Wasted and Madness

“With the eyes of a probing detective, the wisdom and empathy of a clinician, and the yearning and love of a devoted daughter, Rappaport traces the roots and remnants of her mother’s suicide. Blending honesty and delicacy, passion and restraint, In Her Wake is riveting and revelatory reading.”
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education, Harvard University; author of Balm in Gilead and The Third Chapter

"Beautifully written, In Her Wake should be required reading for all of us in the helping professions."
Linda T. Sanford, LICSW, author of Strong at the Broken Places, co-author of Women and Self-Esteem

“Rappaport looks back at her mother’s suicide in order to find a resting place for herself and her family; so they can go on, into the future, with courage. I recognize her pain, and I salute her achievement.”
Christopher Lukas, author of Blue Genes and Silent Grief

 “In Her Wake is as engaging as a well written novel, with truths and insights that are meaningful to every family.”
Michael Jellinek, Chief, Child Psychiatry Service, Massachusetts General Hospital

“This inspiring book reaffirms the strength and resiliency of the human spirit.”
Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Judge Baker Children’s Center; author of Lay My Burden Down

In Her Wake is a moving story of mother and daughter, and the intimate echoes of family complications across the generations; as Nancy learns more about the mother she never knew, she also tells the story of her own journey and the story of a troubled but fascinating family, and helps the reader understand the twists and turns that love and loss can take.”
Perri Klass, author of The Mercy Rule