Caring for loved ones is a part of life, but why don't we talk more about the stress it puts on caregivers? Kate Washington's new book, Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America, is the story of one women's struggle to care for her seriously ill husband--and a revealing look at the unpaid labor that family caregivers provide to a society that systematically fails to acknowledge their work.
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For more information contact Rory Martorana at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-946-2283.
Kate Washington is the author of Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout In America (Beacon Press, 2021) and the dining critic for The Sacramento Bee. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, TIME, Literary Hub, Eater, Catapult, and many other publications. She lives in Sacramento with her husband and two daughters.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
“This is a timely and crucial appeal.”
—Booklist, Starred Review
“A biting critique of how America is failing its unpaid caregivers . . . . The result is a bracing antidote to ‘sentimentalized narratives’ that cast unpaid caregiving as its own reward when, the author makes clear, better Family and Medical Leave Act benefits would be far more useful . . . A startling, hard-hitting story of a family medical disaster made worse by cultural insensitivities to caregivers.”
“[A] wrenching debut . . . Washington’s tale serves as both an evocative memoir and a strident call to action.”
“Vitally important . . . A gift to caregivers everywhere . . . If we are ever to untangle this multi-limbed crisis, it will be with large thanks to Washington.”
—Abby Maslin, author of Love You Hard
Already Toast shows how all-consuming caregiving can be, how difficult it is to find support, and how the social and literary narratives that have long locked women into providing emotional labor also keep them in unpaid caregiving roles. When Kate Washington and her husband, Brad, learned that he had cancer, they were a young couple: professionals with ascending careers, parents to two small children. Brad’s diagnosis stripped those identities away: he became a patient and she his caregiver.
Brad’s cancer quickly turned aggressive, necessitating a stem-cell transplant that triggered a massive infection, robbing him of his eyesight and nearly of his life. Kate acted as his full-time aide to keep him alive, coordinating his treatments, making doctors’ appointments, calling insurance companies, filling dozens of prescriptions, cleaning commodes, administering IV drugs. She became so burned out that, when she took an online quiz on caregiver self-care, her result cheerily declared: “You’re already toast!”
Through it all, she felt profoundly alone, but, as she later learned, she was in fact one of millions: an invisible army of family caregivers working every day in America, their unpaid labor keeping our troubled healthcare system afloat. Because our culture both romanticizes and erases the realities of care work, few caregivers have shared their stories publicly.
As the baby-boom generation ages, the number of family caregivers will continue to grow. Readable, relatable, timely, and often raw, Already Toast—with its clear call for paying and supporting family caregivers—is a crucial intervention in that conversation, bringing together personal experience with deep research to give voice to those tasked with the overlooked, vital work of caring for the seriously ill.