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Family Estrangements


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About the Author

Barbara LeBey is a lawyer, former judge, and an author. Her first book, Family Estrangements, was featured in People magazine, as well as on Good Morning America and the Today show. LeBey is also the author of He's Not Too Young for You. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


While admitting "there are no statistics on the subject," LeBey contends that estrangements between family members are "pervasive" and "escalating." She blames the baby-boom generation's "self-indulgence," women's liberation, rising divorce rates and "increased mobility," all of which have made it easier for people to leave their families for a job or other personal opportunity. LeBey, who claims that everyone suffers in a family estrangement, structures her book around case studies involving divorce, in-laws, sexual orientation, inheritance disputes, interracial/interfaith marriages ("what for many [families] is their worst nightmare") and family businesses. At the end of each chapter she offers pat advice to those left behind, like "never give up!" and "don't blame yourself." A lawyer and former judge with no background in psychology or family counseling, who is estranged from her own son, LeBey only interviewed people who were left behind, not people who chose to leave a relationship. Consequently, her case studies are one-sided and often simplistic, passing harsh judgments upon the people who initiate estrangement. LeBey claims it is not her intention to blame, yet she characterizes those who leave as "mean-spirited," "relentlessly cruel and punishing," "ruthless" and "irrational," accusing them of "poisoning the minds" of children and grandchildren against those left behind. While LeBey's take may comfort people in her position, it isn't likely to mend any fences. (Apr.) Forecast: Given her own affecting personal story, LeBey is a logical candidate for the talk shows; indeed, she is scheduled to appear on the Today Show on April 10. Since few other books address this topic, the book is likely to find its niche, although its flaws may curtail its long-term prospects. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

While estrangement is a subtopic in books focusing primarily on divorce, parenting, interfaith and interracial marriages, and declaring homosexuality, this work deals specifically and soundly with family rifts. LeBey, a lawyer and former judge, draws on research and her own experience of alienation from her son to present a sensitive approach to dealing with estrangement. LeBey stresses how to reestablish relationships with a loved one and how to cope with the loss when overtures don't work. Her examples and anecdotes are drawn from a wide spectrum of family situations, her advice is consistent: be open to reconciliation, learn to forgive for inner peace, never stop reaching out, and learn to live a full and active life and build new relationships. Each chapter closes with straightforward and practical guidelines. This fine book not only recognizes a problem that most people conceal in shame but also fills a void in self-help literature. Highly recommended for public libraries. Kay Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Barbara LeBey has written a wise, loving, and valuable book. There isn't a family who won't find themselves somewhere in it or any who won't find help here, too."
--Anne Rivers Siddons,

"This fine book not only recognizes a problem that most people conceal in shame but also fills a void in self-help literature. Highly recommended."
--Library Journal "In this powerful book, Barbara LeBey does her part to help bring broken families together again. I hope many people will read Family Estrangements and draw strength from it."
--Hamilton Jordan
, New York Times bestselling author of No Such Thing As a Bad Day

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