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Winner of the 2022 Chestnut Review Prose Chapbook Prize

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Praise for Giving Care


In Giving Care, Sue Mell delivers short, sharp and powerfully rendered essays on caregiving a parent in decline. Mell navigates the shifting mother-daughter boundaries along a complicated past, the relentless present with its crises and consequences, and on toward the inevitable future never far from view. Written with lyrical control, humor and truth at the core, Mell’s essays reveal a kind of grief that infiltrates further with each terrible task, while revealing each terrible task as a profound act of love.

  —STEPHANIE GANGI  acclaimed novelist of The Next and Carry the Dog


After a catastrophic fall, broken bones, and months of rehab, Sue Mell’s mother returned home with her adult daughter—“dogged fixer, belated stepper-in”—as full-time caregiver. Leaving her career and independent life in San Francisco, Mell finds her days filled with the logistics of cleaning blood off a carpet runner, having a hospital bed delivered, dealing with home health aides. With the onset of Covid, her world becomes ever smaller: her mother’s house, wistful glimpses of the trees and birds outside, a “violent smear of music” from a passing car. Giving Care is a brief yet resonant collection that captures the quiet intimacy of caregiving in a series of vivid snapshots. Powerful, truthful, and never sentimental, it’s a tour through the world of a child turned adult and an adult returning to childhood.

- KATHRYN KULPA, author of Girls on Film

For everyone worried about easing their mother’s decline, or about how their kids will handle their own decline, or what they’ll do without kids when the time comes, Sue Mell’s Giving Care is a box of bitter- sweet chocolates. One brief moment after another captured in urgent flashes, beautifully expressing what it’s like to keep going through moments dark and light in parental tending, hoping each day for our favorite flavor, that this one will be a good one.

- ALLISON K WILLIAMS, author of Seven Drafts

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