My Friend Wrote a Book!

March 11, 2010


There is some awe in knowing someone who has written a book. It’s such a monumental task, as well as an expensive one! I looked into the publishing market several years ago. Back then, it was advised that I read the encyclopedic-sized A Writer’s Market, find (and pay for) an agent, write multitudes of letters to various publishing companies who will probably reject everything I write anyway, and hope for the best. Oh, and have an extra handy $1000 or $2000 on hand for paying for the privilege, too.


Needless to say, my little books were promptly stashed into the filing cabinet.

I guess the book publishing process has become a little easier now. My friend, Karen Arelettaz Zemek, even did it herself! She wrote a lovely tribute to her dad, with My Funny Dad, Harry. I just finished reading it, and this is my review.

The book is smart-looking– very simple, nice and clean. The photo on the front cover had my interest: why was Harry snoozing with a lion on his lap? Hmmm. The mystery is revealed toward the end of the book. In one of the many stories that Karen relates, Harry was something akin to a narcoleptic– he could fall asleep anywhere. He used to fall asleep while eating! One day, while Karen and her husband Gerard were visiting Harry with their cute stuffed lion, Harry fell asleep right before their eyes. Gerard placed the toy on Harry’s lap, to see if Harry would continue snoozing. Yep.

The book begins with the Harry of his younger years as he was raising Karen and her foster siblings. I found the generous nature of the family very impressive: Harry and his wife Lenore were concerned about Karen’s “only child” status. They asked her if they could take care of some underprivileged children by “adopting” some into their family; Karen was delighted! Such generosity and care amazed me; you see, I had a rough family life (lots of step-parents and step-kids coming in and out, plus all the problems that accompany that). I wish my childhood had been as idyllic as Karen made hers seem! I think if Karen and I had been neighbors, we might have been friends. I surely would have appreciated her family’s stability! So I liked the stories about her younger years.

The book continues on into Harry’s later years, when old age and health problems set in. The book details many of the things that adult children experience with their older parents (again, unfamiliar territory for me). Karen is probably a good 10+ years older than I am, and I’m a Gen-Xer. My generation saw the explosion of the divorce rate, the full-time working moms and subsequent day-care babies; and of my generation, nearly 70 million of our unseen peers have been obliterated by abortion. To say that my generation, overall, has no sense of family and family values is an understatement. So reading her book and learning of her experiences and dedication to her dad was a real eye-opener for me. Fifty years ago and earlier, it was probably “standard” for aged parents to live with their adult children and grandchildren (at least, from what I gather from old movies and history books!); today, that responsibility is long gone. Lots of my peers don’t even KNOW their fathers, or who their fathers are.

I always admire people who care for the older folks. My own grandmother took in her mother, her grandmother’s sister, and my own mother and us kids when things were bad– not to mention she cared for my invalid grandfather for 25 of their 40 years together. It just seems like families were closer and cared for each other in those “old” days.

So a lot of the stories gave me food for thought, about how our society has really changed.

Karen’s narrative runs a lot like a blogger’s: conversational, lots of punctuation, and in short, expressive bursts. I know Karen now laments that she should have hired a copy editor, but her book is what it is. Sure, there are run-ons (I’m such a grammar nazi, I admit), but the book is very readable; and it’s difficult to put down because the stories are interesting. One of my young sons saw the book on my table, and took off with it to read it. I didn’t see the book again for THREE days! It’s a good book for young teens, to expose them to the more intimate issues that older people have to go through, and what issues their adult children have to go through along with them!

A few things I learned from this book:

  • Harry was a really cool guy. I wish I’d known him when I was a kid. We could have gone to hardware stores together!! (I LOVE hardware stores). And if I had, I probably wouldn’t be so cynical of people, especially men, as I grew up to be.
  • I got to know Karen even more, and I like her even more. 🙂
  • Older folks go through a heck of a lot, mostly because of failing health. A lot of Harry’s frustrations were due to his poor health (such as deafness, arthritis, etc).
  • There is no nursing home that can ever replace the tender lovingkindess of a singular caring person or a houseful of needy cats.
  • Although Harry’s house was loaded with clutter, it must have been SO COOL to go through all that old stuff!

Also, I really liked the stories about Karen’s youth; and the notes of Harry’s memorial service were very touching. There’s also a segment in the back about knowing God personally, which was lovely. My Funny Dad, Harry, is a great book. I took it for more than any entertainment value (and it was entertaining), and tried to keep in mind the “moral of the story”; which, to me, was: God’s creatures are all precious, take care of one another.


You can get the book at, and read more about Karen Arlettaz Zemek here.

, ,

7 Responses to “My Friend Wrote a Book!”

  1. Chris@HoundsGood Says:

    My grandfather is totally narcoleptic, too. It is just expected that he will conk out at family fatherings. However, this made for interesting car trips where you had to tap Grandpa on the shoulder from the back seat. That is a wonderful achievement to write a book – I hope to do the same someday.

    • Rebecca Says:

      Chris– that’s too funny! And a tad scary. There’s an old comic’s saying about something like it: “When I leave this earth, I want to go peacefully and contentedly, like Grandpa, and not screaming and panicking, like the people in his car.” :S I could never understand how people could fall asleep JUST LIKE THAT. Me, it takes me a long time to wind down!

      Vixen– I hope you enjoy it. It’s very conversational, and witty!

      Jude– It’s a really cute book. Harry was a very entertaining person! 😉

  2. Vixen Says:

    I can’t wait to read her book also. Karen is such a great lady, her dad must have been so awesome.

  3. Jude Says:

    I won Karen’s book in a secret contest she was having and have it sitting next to me now and look over at Harry every once in awhile and I feel horrible that I haven’t read the whole thing through yet, what a nice review of Karen’s book,

  4. Elizabeth @ Confessions From A Working Mom Says:

    I believe I have read Karen’s blog(s)– yes, both of them– before even reading your article! I am always amazed by what a small world blogging is.

    I see you’re new to SITS– welcome! I hope you enjoy the SITStahood 🙂


  5. tahtimbo Says:

    That was a fantastic review! Ever since I was introduced to Karen over a year ago, I have wanted to read this book. From reading your review, I want to read even more. I’ll be saving my money and getting this book.

  6. arthritis Says:

    If you’re battling with rheumatoid arthritis you should be aware that current research shows that there can be several genetic and environmental factors involved in the cause of the disease. Each person also respond in different ways to the available remedies.