By: Valerie Frankel
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publishing Date: September 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 2011
This is one of those books that wishes to ‘harkens back’ to the time of Erma Bombeck and her truly amazingly funny stories of friendship, love, and family. Although the beginning of this book doesn’t deliver those types of laughs, readers should not give up on this memoir right away. In fact, readers will find themselves enjoying it more and more as the pages go by.
“Satire in the extreme” doesn’t really come to pass, but there are a whole lot of laughs when readers see what happens to the author when she has to face her suppressed feelings about life. Beginning with the seventh grade, the author’s world took a complete turn, when her two best friends were no longer her two best friends. As she grows and develops her own personality she turns to writing, and has moderate success with her books and articles.
Dealing with snobby neighbors she dislikes, and getting even with them in very amusing ways, is when the author begins to drop the more ‘cynical voice,’ and take readers on a more upbeat ride. Yes, there are aspects where readers receive a diatribe of hurt feelings, author envy, selfish boyfriends, etc. - but then the narrative changes into a truly fun story of a life that was stopped on a dime due to a medical problem, and getting told off by one of her friends who simply got sick of all the complaining.
The author presents a very funny moment that many of us can relate to. The Subway Sandwich Shop story tells of a worker behind the counter who just doesn’t listen when the author orders her daughter a plain tuna sandwich on un-toasted bread with no extras. It took many minutes to get her order, and the reason why is hysterical…and SO true! Upon arriving home, her daughter remarked to her Dad, “Mom had a tuna meltdown.” Mom laughed about it, and as Mom begins to laugh so do the rest of her readers.
Frankel and her husband also had a contest at home with their two children after reading a book called, A Complaint Free World. Deciding to try an experiment within the family, the children were told that if they could go a week without complaining, they would receive one hundred dollars at the end of the week (minus one dollar for each complaint). Since the kids were very good at complaining, Mom figured that, in seven days, she wouldn’t owe them a dime.
Not giving up on this book is exactly what all readers must do. There is some really funny stuff within these pages, and your heart will also go out to the author as she’s faced with some very difficult life decisions. Like the great Bombeck, many readers will connect with some of these stories because most of them happen to us all.
Quill Says: You’ll discover your own “inner hater” but, in the end, we all learn that we need to be true to ourselves and let the chips fall where they may (even if they fall on your neighbor’s lawn!).