Reviews for Unfinished Business : One Man's Extraordinary Year of Trying to do the Right Things

BookPage Reviews 2010 June
Rebuilding fractured bonds

“Life goes fast,” Lee Kravitz observes in Unfinished Business: “Click. You are fifteen. Click, click. You are fifty-five. Click, click. You are gone. And so are the people who loved and nurtured you.” Realizing these truths all too clearly when he finds himself out of a job in his mid-fifties and suddenly adrift, Kravitz decides to take a year out of an otherwise workaholic existence and attend to the real currency of life—human relationships.


“All of us have unfinished business,” he writes. “It can be a friend we lost touch with or a mentor we never thanked; it can be a call we meant to make or a pledge we failed to honor. It can be a goal we lost sight of or a spiritual quest we put on hold.” When he makes his conscience-clearing “to do” list, it is long and complicated, and he is uncertain how his long-overdue overtures will be received; among the fractured relationships are a beloved aunt he has neglected for 15 years, a traveling buddy he borrowed $600 from and never paid back and a bereaved friend he never consoled. His inspiring journey of re-connection and redemption takes us to far-flung places—a refugee camp in Kenya, a monastery in California, a bar in Cleveland—and introduces us to a host of kind and kindred spirits from whom he gains strength, insight and encouragement.


In turn, Kravitz encourages us to act, to keep moving forward toward “true human connectedness” despite the demands and pressures of modern life. “The hurdles we face in tackling our unfinished business can seem impossibly high, but the first step in clearing them is usually quite simple: Write an email, or make a phone call. You can never tell when the weight you’ve been shouldering will slip away, leaving you a more complete and loving person.” 

Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 March #2
Former Parade editor in chief Kravitz makes amends and spends a year living connectedly.Reflecting on his life after losing his job, the author was not pleased with what he found--a workaholic living in self-exile not just from his family but his greater life. He felt diminished because of his firing, and he felt guilty about the important things he dropped by the wayside: family and friends, a broad curiosity, an inclusive worldview. "As good as my life looked on paper," he writes, "it was sorely lacking in the one area that puts flesh on meaning: human connectedness." So the author devoted an entire year to tying up loose emotional ends. Despite being fearful and anxious, he reached out to reconnect with family, friends and acquaintances--a schizophrenic aunt, a high-school teacher, friends he has been concerned about, an old nemesis, people along the way he has made promises to that have gone begging--and found many pleasing nuggets of gold. Though genuine, Kravitz's writing has a high pitch--not desperate, but somewhere between hopeful and eager to please. On the surface, his journeys are not particularly exciting; there are no swooning epiphanies, and the results don't fit comfortably into a paint-by-numbers philosophy. Nonetheless, they are truthful, generous and worthwhile. Through his experiences, he found meaning, an acceptance of life's absurdity and the insight that so much comes down to attitude and keeping the many threads of life thrumming.Vignettes of a life recovered, not deep but authentic.Coordinated appearances around the author's lecture schedule. Agent: David Black/David Black Literary Agency Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

When Parade editor-in-chief Kravitz loses his job, he takes account of the many things he let slip in his quest to get to the top of the publishing world. He decides to take the next year to pursue all he's let pass: a reconciliation with a long-lost aunt; an exploration of spirituality; a payment of a 30-year-old debt; and other pursuits. In the process he learns a great deal about patience, humility, love, and family and reminds readers that the best time to do the things you say you're going to do is now. Kravitz is a thoughtful writer, and his memoir reveals a delicate personal journey, but many of his grand setups result in poor payoffs. While readers will be pleased that the author has made these valuable connections and has enriched his life, they may not connect sufficiently with him to be able to sympathize. His account is full of small, personal gestures, but their ultimate accumulation doesn't have much resonance. (June)

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