Rats, Mice, and Other Things You Can't Take to the Bank

Book Review: Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank


Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank is a collection of essays by award-winning columnist Leslie Handler, in which she shares her life story.

“I was born, and now I’m old. The end….There’s been a whole lot of stuff in between.”

That stuff in between makes up this wonderful collection of essays as Handler reaches out to, and connects with, her readers.

She describes herself as neither a glass-half-empty, nor a glass-half-full, person, but rather as a person with lots of glasses.

“My glass, admittedly, has been empty. It’s been bone dry. But then… I witness a stranger who doesn’t even have a glass. Then I’m grateful, and my glass fills right back up. Sometimes it even overflows.”

Divided into topical chapters, Rats, Mice and Other Things is funny and sad, heart-rending and inspirational, ordinary and amazing. Most of all, it is sincere, and that is what makes Handler’s work so refreshing.

In chapter one, Handler gives readers a glimpse into her life and her life philosophy. “When something doesn’t quite go my way, I can just shout out ‘oh rats’ and know that it’s OK.” In chapter two we meet her husband and children. In chapter three, “More life happened.”

This is the first glimpse we get into Handler’s empty glass times. “We supported each other in sickness and in health. Until one of us didn’t.” She writes about 9/11—the day her husband stood at the base of the falling tower. She writes about coping with unemployment, Super Storm Sandy, the housing crisis, cancer, and cancer again.

“They say that nothing is perfect. They are wrong,” Handler writes. “It’s brief, and it’s fleeting, but it exists…. I’ve felt it wrapped in years of love, respect, and laughter…and most of all love.”

This phrase seems to be woven through several essays, including, “Is Your Congressman as Smart as a Third Grader,” and “Sad Birthday.”

Handler reaches out to the reader.. Whether humorously commenting on grammar, the presidential candidacy, or body image, on God or growing old, on technology or a senior brain freeze, the author walks side-by-side with her readers, sharing frustrations when everything seems to be going wrong and joy when things go right.

Rats, Mice and other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank reminds us of what is important—”kindness, moderation, and passion.”

Leslie Handler is an international syndicated columnist with Senior Wire News Service as well as a contributor to several other national publications and blogs. A portion of her royalties will go to National Alliance on Mental Illness. MSN

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